Pregnant, on drugs, or in jail: New program launches to help expectant moms

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As a new mom, It's especially easy for someone like me to be sympathetic to the challenges of being pregnant and a new mom. For some women, the hurdles are much, much higher.

A new organization is reaching out to help expectant mothers in jail and battling addiction.

Baby E'Shawnti Wyatt is the picture of perfection. A beautiful baby girl, born just at the start of a brand new year- but for mom, the year ahead will be a big challenge.

"Just basically, you're getting out and transitioning with a felony is hard," said LaShonda Henderson.

Henderson is a new mom who just signed up for the program helping pregnant women and new moms impacted by drug use or incarceration - or both.

"You know, I have six children and I have a family, and it's holding me back from getting stuff that I need like housing, jobs, and everything that I need like involved with that," said Henderson.

She got out of jail weeks before her daughter arrived. She's hoping the new program will give her just that - hope.

"It's definitely needed," said Henderson. "We get overlooked with addiction, pregnancy, and just women being incarcerated. It's just been overlooked."

The Real Life Community Center launched their expectant mother program this week, working to provide resources to what they say is a growing and underserved population.

"One of the things we hope to do is provide these resources, so they don't go back into the penal system," said Tauchanna Gilmore, the Expectant Moms Case Manager for the Real Life Community Center.

The program offers resources for drug addiction, parenting, and life skills. It also provides help with job searches and developing a stable life.

"One of the biggest things is finding out from them what they think they need. We don't want to always tell our clients about what they need. We want to hear their goals as well," said Tauchanna Gilmore, Real Life Community Center expectant moms case manager.

The support starts as early as in jail. They'll accept collect calls to sign women up and they'll provide support until the mother gets out of jail.

"What I hope the babies get out of this is a healthy mother," said Gilmore. "A mother that is healthy in her mind and a mother that is healthy in her emotions. A mother that is healthy in her body. Also, a mother who is striving to do things for herself."

If mom is happy and doing well, they say the baby will be too.

"It's definitely a source of hope," said Henderson.

Here's the press release with more details from the Real Life Center:

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