‘You need the right person or the right link…’

February 2, 2015

Nurse-Family PartnershipScientific interviewers who work with the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) speak to women about some of the most emotionally intense experiences of their young lives. Their first pregnancy. Their relationships. The financial — and other — challenges they face. Their future job prospects. Their education.

Interviewer Vivian Lehman* remembers one mother-to-be especially well. Lehman expressed how much she appreciated the woman taking the time to share her experiences. “She sat there for a minute and looked at me and said, ‘I’m happy I did this and I really hope it can help improve services,’ ” Lehman recalls.

The woman had had experience with foster care and had grown up without much support. But the interview gave her the chance to have her voice heard. She was 18 years old.

“To have [young women] relate these feelings back to you is really powerful,” Lehman says, and she herself remains moved by the potential of her role. Her job is to interview participants in the project, tracking both their successes and the challenges they face.

Lehman believes the BCHCP, which is a scientific study of the Nurse-Family Partnership, will help show if there are benefits to adding new programs to support young first-time mothers facing socio-economic disadvantages compared to what’s currently available.

An intensive child and maternal health program, Nurse-Family Partnership provides disadvantaged young women who are preparing to parent for the first time with one-on-one home visits with public health nurses throughout their pregnancy. The visits continue until children reach their second birthday. The BCHCP is the first Canadian scientific evaluation of this program.

Lehman also believes the study will illustrate the challenge of getting information to the young women who need it. “There are quite a few different services [for young pregnant women],” she says, “but you need the right person or the right link to find your way in to them. It can be really hard when you’re young and find yourself pregnant.”

Having the chance to interview participants in the BCHCP is something Lehman describes as a tremendous experience. “It’s an honour to be able to peek into their lives,” she says. “It’s really a privilege.”

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for more information.

* Name has been changed to protect privacy