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HUGS? Have you Had YOUR ((HUG)) today?

Have you had your HUG today?

As we know there are many different kinds of hugs ranging from the polite hug to the never-ending rocking side to side embrace hug. And just as there are so many ways to hug there are endless reasons why hugs are wanted and needed. Today I want to share HUGS with you!

What is HUGS?

HUGS is                an Acronym which stands for Help Us Grow Successfully. HUGS is a home-based care coordination program developed by the Tennessee Department of Health. Home visitation provides a way to help to decrease infant mortality. The Shelby County Health Department HUGS program provides assessment of family needs, assistance to seek solutions for these needs, and also includes client centered education.

In an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate one of the specific focus areas for the HUGS program is educating families on the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by providing a safe sleep environment for infants.

Who qualifies for these services?

  • Families living in Memphis and Shelby county
  • Prenatal/postpartum women
  • children through 5 years of age
  • Parent/guardian of the client referred to the program.
  • Families who have experienced the loss of a child less than 2 years old (due SIDS, prematurity, ETC) – grief counseling is provided…

How does the HUGS program help a family?

A health care professional is assigned to each family. These services are provided at no cost to the families. The care coordinator encourages a healthy pregnancy to promote positive birth outcomes. Families are assisted in accessing health care and other social and educational services. Attention is placed on enhancing family strengths. Education is provided regarding pregnancy, growth, development, and parenting education. Emphasis is placed on SIDS counseling and ways to decrease the risk of SIDS.

Who can I contact if I am interested in the program or to make a referral to HUGS?

Linda Busby, RN

HUGS Supervisor

Phone: 901-222-9703

Fax:  901-222-7976


It takes the entire community to continue making progress.


Infections during Pregnancy

February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. No one ever wants to acquire any kind of infection, but pregnant women especially want to avoid infection in order to protect themselves and their babies.

One of the more common infections in pregnancy is Group B Strep. Up to 25% of pregnant women may have it. Pregnant women are tested for it during their routine prenatal care between 35 and 37 weeks gestation. In pregnancies with a positive result, antibiotics are given during labor to prevent spread of the infection. It is important for everyone to be tested for Group B Strep during each pregnancy.

Many people have heard that pregnant women should avoid certain soft cheeses, some deli meats, and other foods. This is due to the risk of listeriosis, another infection that can occur in pregnancy. Foods that are contaminated by the bacteria listeria can cause listeriosis. These foods may include those mentioned above as well as hot dogs, sprouts (bean sprouts, for example), and unrefrigerated melon. For more information on listeriosis prevention and high risk foods, check the CDC website.

Most recently, Zika Virus has been a concern for pregnant women due to its potentially causing many problems during pregnancy and for babies. The best ways to protect oneself from Zika is to avoid areas where it is common (many Central and South American and Caribbean countries), to avoid exposure to mosquitoes, and to practice safe sex with any partner who could have been exposed to Zika.

For more information on Prenatal Infections, click here!

Working Together for Healthy Families and Healthy Babies


By Juanita White, Community Building Manager
Binghampton Development Corporation

I have the honor of belonging to a special group of women of all ages who get together at various times throughout the year. We make up reasons to get together but we really do it because we grew to enjoy each other’s company over the year. We like to get together and do “women things” and talk “women talk.”

One of the women revealed to us about three years ago that she had a miscarriage. She told us months after the incident so that we wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. That would make her sad, she told us, and we respected that. She lost the baby early in her pregnancy but as any woman who has ever been pregnant knows, loss hurts and loss of a baby, your own flesh and blood, hurts worse than anything. So we understood that she and her husband wanted to bear that pain in private, away from questioning, though caring, friends.

We had a luncheon together in late 2014 to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the women in the group. We were all in high spirits, having a grand old time. Our friend, “Gloria” I’ll call her though that is not her name, joined us. Gloria celebrated with us but she was not her usual self. Oh yes, she laughed at the over-the-hill jokes and the gag gifts but those big, light brown doe eyes seemed a little sad to some of us. Nobody pried; we respect each other’s privacy. We sensed that something was wrong but assumed she was still grieving the loss and maybe getting pregnant was difficult. We didn’t know. We didn’t ask.

One day Gloria’s sister, a friend of mine, told me that Gloria did indeed get pregnant again but lost that child too. I was heartbroken; I know how much she wants to be a mother. Her sisters have children and she, being the youngest, wanted to start a family too. Gloria is young – 32 – so she was in her late 20’s when her body started betraying her, giving her false hopes of motherhood, only to snatch her dreams away.

There was some reason to be hopeful, her sister told me. Gloria and her gynecologist worked together to determine the root cause of the problem. Gloria has a small medical issue that would not keep her from carrying a child to term but they needed to find the right medical interventions to help her carry the baby to term. The doctor did some research, found another doctor to collaborate with her on Gloria’s particular issue, and decided upon a plan. Gloria was generally healthy-she ate right, drank a little, not too much, exercised a bit. (Hey, who can hit the gym five days a week? Well, great for you but….) Anyway, together the three formed a team and determined to see Gloria become a mother one day.

Long story short: Gloria and her husband became parents of a 7 lb. healthy baby boy in early 2016.  We hosted the “bluest” baby shower in Memphis and named ourselves  “The Godmothers.”

The story here is that healthy women have healthy babies. Doctors who work with their patients can help women prepare for a healthy full term birth. Good health care is important. Birth spacing matters.  Being stress-free is a MUST. Having supportive family and friends means everything.   In the end “A Healthy Pregnancy= A Healthy Baby.”

Make Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects!

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Not all birth defects can be prevented, but by making healthy choices, moms can help ensure better health outcomes for their babies.

Many families hear about the importance of folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help prevent certain birth defects affecting the brain and spine such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Pregnant women should get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, which can come from fortified foods or supplements, or a combination of the two, in addition to a varied diet rich in folate. These foods include leafy green vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts, among other foods.

Pregnant mothers should avoid using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. Certain drugs can increase the chance of babies being born preterm and can also increase the chance that a baby is born with a birth defect. Alcohol use can increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). No amount of drugs or alcohol have been deemed safe during pregnancy, so the safest and best option is to avoid them completely.

Infection prevention is very important in preventing birth defects. Pregnant moms should avoid contact with people who have infections. They should always wash their hands prior to eating or preparing food or after handling any items that could cause illness or infection. They should also make sure that any meat they consume is fully cooked.

Frequent follow-up with a healthcare provider is another important way for moms to ensure a healthy outcome for their baby. Seeing an OBGYN regularly can help help moms and their families know how the fetus is developing and if there are any health concerns. Of course, moms should always express any issues to their healthcare provider.



Home visitation helps moms make a great start!




These are common responses to caring for children—especially newborns.

  • Would you like to be the best parent that you can be: loving, caring, understanding and meeting the needs of your baby?
  • Would it be helpful to you to have someone with a listening ear? How about support when you’re frustrated or down?
  • Would you like to know about services that would benefit you and your family as they grow and develop?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, a home visiting program may be just what you need to assist you.

Home visits by trained personnel can provide you with the tools, support and knowledge that you need in order to develop a secure bond with your children and to create a positive, trusting environment.

Positive early experiences can help lessen the impact of difficulties when they do occur and build resilience in your child.

Children who are physically and emotionally healthy become resilient adults who become assets to our communities.

Your children deserve a healthy start and you, the parent, deserve the support that you need to accomplish the important task of nurturing your child well during these important early years.

If you would like to learn more about the home-based care program, HUGS (Help Us Grow Successfully), at the Shelby County Health Department call:

Linda Busby, RN, HUGS Supervisor

What is 17P?

Are you the mother of one of the 500,000 preterm babies born each year in the United States? And, sadly, was your baby one of the 11,300 infants who dies on the first day of birth?

The major cause of infant death is prematurity which is one-third of all infant deaths in the United States. If you have given birth to a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you have delivered a premature baby. When you become pregnant again, there will be an increased risk that your next child will be born too early, facing chronic medical problems, disabilities and/or death before his/her first birthday.

There is help for mothers who have had premature infants and are pregnant again. It is a medication called 17 Alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate, or just “17P”, which can decrease the risk of preterm birth by 33%. If, after evaluation by your health care provider, you qualify for 17P, you will receive a 17P injection once a week from the 16th to the 36th week of your pregnancy.

If you are currently pregnant, consider 17P if:

• You have previously delivered a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and
• You are carrying one baby (singleton).

Be the proud Mom of a baby born on time!


More information is available on 17P here!

Infant Feeding during the Holidays


During the holiday season, families gather together to reminisce, exchange gifts, eat, and socialize. When babies are a part of the family, many relatives may be excited to meet and spend time with their families’ newest additions.

Infant feeding can create some challenges for parents and caregivers, as their family members may be unfamiliar with their preferred feeding methods. There are several ways that babies are fed. Here is some information and tips on how to encourage family members to support parents and caregivers, no matter how they may feed their babies.

Breastfeeding is a common means of infant feeding for families. Breastfeeding mothers need support from family to make the process easier. During the holiday season, help breastfeeding mothers by helping provide a relaxing place for them to nurse. Bring them water and snacks to help them stay hydrated and nourished.

Mothers who pump (whether part-time or full-time) need the same support. Give them a clean and comfortable place to pump. Assist with washing and sterilizing their pump parts and baby’s bottles. And since the milk is in a bottle, help feed the baby his or her milk and give mom time to fellowship with family and friends.

Moms who formula feed can use support from their family members during the holidays as well. Help mom clean and prepare bottles. Always check instructions to make sure that the formula is being properly mixed and prepared. Give mom a comfortable place to sit and feed baby or help by feeding the baby and letting mom have an opportunity to relax.

Babies over the age of 6 months may be eating solid foods. ALWAYS check with parents and caregivers before feeding a baby anything other than his or her breast milk or formula. Babies may have food allergies or may become ill from eating a food with which their stomachs are unfamiliar.

However families feed their babies – whether it is via nursing, exclusive pumping, supplementing with formula, or complete formula feeding – provide the support that they need to make the holiday season easier.