Murua Moms

The purpose of the Murua Moms: Pre-Meditated Pregnancy & Motherhood Project is to provide alternative methods of engaging African American women in the process of examining how their stress, depression, anxiety, and substance use are harmful to their own well-being as well as that of their baby, and to allow them to learn culturally appropriate stress reduction techniques and coping mechanisms in supportive environments, attuned to their cultural pressures and needs.

Consequently, the overall goal of the Murua Moms Project is to improve birth outcomes among low-income African American women struggling with chemical use and/or mental health issues.

To accomplish this mission, BOTH parents are invited to develop knowledge, partnerships, skills, and behaviors that promote wellness, safety, and respect in their homes and in the community.

The program provides intensive support including intake, education, mentorship, and wellness coaching services to up to fifteen women per class. This cost-effective program integrates best practices in wellness promotion among its participants, recognizing that Managed Care Magazine estimated that the average cost for infants hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units is around $3,000 per day. While the average cost to an employer of a healthy baby born at full-term, or 40 weeks of gestation, is $2,830, and the average cost for a premature baby is $41,610.

Program participants are African American pregnant women who were screened into the project if they meet high-risk pregnancy requirements including screening for mental health, substance use and other stress-related conditions. The first step after enrollment in the Murua Mom Project is for clients to receive a comprehensive wellness assessment and then to create an individual wellness plan with the assistance of an assigned personal wellness coach, who specializes in mental health issues.

After the wellness assessment and wellness plan are developed, project participants, their partners and/or other family members, participate in an eight-to-ten-week education/support group that emphasizes wellness and health promotion in multiple life areas including social, emotional, physical, financial, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and vocational wellness. Each weekly session focuses on the potential stressors related to each life area and how African American pregnant women are impacted by them. For example, the Module on social wellness addresses issues such as pregnancy and child development risk factors associated with unhealthy relationships (such as intimate partner violence, dysfunctional family systems) and teaches participants culturally congruent strategies for setting boundaries and developing healthy relationships. The module on physical wellness emphasizes knowledge about general and culturally specific issues related to physical wellness (such as substance abuse/addictions, HIV, prenatal care, diet, exercise, hormonal changes, and the “baby brain” phenomenon) and their impact on pregnancy outcomes as well as early childhood development. Again, participants learn coping strategies for improving physical wellness.

Finally, while the project facilitators/wellness coaches meet regularly with participants throughout the course of the project to ensure that the goals of their individual wellness plans are on track, clients are also slated to receive comprehensive support services from the Murua Mom Project Case Manager. The duties of the Case Manager include coordinating care with the participant’s primary care providers (medical home) to support patient medical compliance with prenatal appointments, physician instructions, and other healthcare strategies. When necessary, the Case Manager will also provide referrals for crisis or emergency services and will make appropriate referrals for other supportive resources including couple’s counseling, psychiatric support, full psychological evaluations, substance abuse counseling or mental health case management. Substance use and Mental Health referrals may be made in-house or externally. The Case Manager will also help clients access support for other social service resources such as housing, childcare, employment, utility, insurance application assistance, and navigation of the healthcare system.