Quilts give comfort through community

Community groups donate quilts for first-time mothers in Nurse-Family Partnership program

Photo: Nurse Family PartnershipA gift, a surprise and a learning tool — all three are ways to describe the quilts gifted to mothers participating in Nurse-Family Partnership of Central Alabama, administered by UAB School of Nursing.

Since February, the Birmingham Quilters Guild and Bib and Tucker Sew-Op have provided more than 120 “cuddle quilts” for new mothers in the program, which partners specially trained registered nurses with low-income, first-time mothers-to-be.

In Nurse-Family Partnership, RNs visit moms during their pregnancy as well as for the first two years of their child’s life, providing check-ups for the baby and check-ins for the mother. The evidence-based program has been shown to create positive and lasting behaviors that lead to healthy and successful lives.

For moms in the program, these quilts are more than handmade blankets, said Candace Knight, PhD, RN, assistant professor and Nurse-Family Partnership program director.

“These quilts are a way to show these new mothers that we value them and their babies. It’s a way to show them how much we honor their commitment to become the best moms they can be,” Knight said. “We also use it as a teaching tool. When we give them the quilt, we talk about the types of developmental play for which it can be used.”

The quilts are presented to mothers when their babies are two or three months old, Knight said, and the nurses will talk about its uses. They offer a clean, soft space for babies to play and experience “tummy time,” during which babies develop neck and shoulder muscles as well as motor skills.

For many women, the quilt is the first homemade gift they have received, and their reaction is oftentimes emotional, said nurse home visitor Kaylee Baswell, RN.

Photo: babies“A lot of the moms react first with shock. They don’t expect us to bring gifts on our visits, and after I explain that the quilts are handmade, they’re usually blown away that someone took the time to make a quilt for them,” Baswell said. “They love them so much, and usually when I come back for the next visit, they’ll have the baby’s quilt on the floor or the couch, and their baby will be doing tummy time or just playing there.”

Bib & Tucker Sew-Op, a non-profit organization that aims to cultivate skills for those who sew or want to sew, and the Birmingham Quilters Guild started making quilts for the Nurse-Family Partnership after Rebecca Wakefield, MBA, CRA, program administrator, reached out.

“We loved the idea immediately,” said Lillis Taylor, executive director at Bib & Tucker Sew-Op. “We have a vision to be a hub of sewing activity that promotes empowerment, education and economic opportunity. This falls into the empowerment spoke of that hub. We’re so impressed with Nurse-Family Partnership and what they’re doing for mothers and babies, so we want to mirror that and support our community, too.”

Mary Holbert, comfort quilt chairperson for the Birmingham Quilters Guild, said guild members were also eager to help when they heard about Nurse-Family Partnership.

“When someone comes to us and asks for us to donate quilts, that is the kind of thing we like to do,” Holbert said. “It means we’re helping that community group reach their mission, and what mission is better than helping children?”

The Birmingham Quilters Guild has created more than 100 quilts for Nurse-Family Partnership since the start of the year.

“We felt this is a project that fits in with the mission of the Birmingham Quilters Guild,” said Wakefield. “The group was really invested in this project, and it means a lot to the mothers in Nurse-Family Partnership.”

Photo: Nurse Family Partnership Home VisitAfter the partnership was approved by the guild’s board, Holbert said quilters were ready to start. She set up a Sew Day, where quilters get together to work on a specific project and had 15 people sign up within the first 15 minutes.

“Turns out there are a lot of teachers and nurses in our guild,” Holbert said. “Everyone agreed this was a good program for us to support, and providing these quilts made us all feel good.”

Bib & Tucker also held a “quilt-a-thon” where sew-op members could come by at any time on a Saturday to cut fabric, sew quilts or otherwise help in the process. The completed around five quilts, Taylor said, and started another 30.

“The quilt-a-thon was so successful that we plan to hold another one in the fall,” Taylor said. “We told Becky that if they need something, she can let us know. We’re here to support however we can, and we know it makes motherhood a little easier if you know someone in the community is supporting you and rooting for you.”

The quilts, Knight said, are also an example of how Nurse-Family Partnership is supported by the community.

“We could not do what we’re doing without the community support of other agencies. We are funded by several other community agencies, and the relationships that we have built are absolutely vital to meeting the needs of these women,” Knight said.

Read 4494 times Last modified on March 05, 2019

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