Services to Families

For pregnant women in need and their families

Pregnant women who live in poverty are at serious risk of giving birth to low birthweight babies (10-12% according to research).  Furthermore, birth weight is a known indicator for both short and long term health.  In order to reduce by half the number of insufficient birthweight babies born to pregnant women at risk, the Dispensary uses a method of perinatal nutritional support developed in the 1950s, the “Higgins Method”©.  This method, known for its effectiveness, inspires even today national and international perinatal nutrition programmes.

The essence of the “Higgins Method”© is that in order for impoverished pregnant women to eat the foods her baby requires to be born in good health, she must understand, and endorse, her role as a mother from the very beginning of her pregnancy, have access to nutritional food and  have support to help lower the impediments to improving her health. A husband who endorses his role as father and supports his wife also plays a decisive role in pregnancy.

To learn more about the previous results of the “Higgins Method”©, read the following: Nutritional Status and the Outcome of Pregnancy (1976), Impact of the Higgins Nutrition Intervention Program on birth weight: A within-mother analysis (1989), Impact of the Higgins Nutrition Intervention Program on birth weight: A within-mother analysis (1989) and Ability of the Higgins Nutrition Intervention Program to improve adolescent pregnancy outcome (1997).

The Dispensary offers women and their husbands a personalized service, an openness to their culture, and a place where they can find a spirit of community, as well as acquire new skills and knowledge.

 

Counseling nutritionnel

Each year, Dispensary nutritionists individually counsel more than one thousand pregnant women in need in the Greater Montreal area, that is to say more than one-quarter of women in such circumstances. Each of these women has the right to an average of five prenatal, and two postnatal, consultations. Throughout this period, nutritionists provide guidance, while taking into account the family culture, state of health and financial situation, on how to optimize diet during pregnancy and can provide daily supplements which comprise one litre of milk, an egg and a vitamin and mineral caplet.

Allaitement

Breastfeeding offers many advantages of which the principal is to provide, almost for free, perfect food for babies.  The Dispensary encourages its clients to breastfeed and 95% try it.

Perhaps surprisingly, while breastfeeding is a natural process, it requires preparation in order to facilitate its start and then sustain it. Despite this, many difficulties can arise and, in these cases, expert advice and counseling can often provide solutions.

To this end, the Dispensary offers two workshops on breastfeeding:

  • Good breastfeeding: introduction to the advantages of breastfeeding, how to prepare for it, what to eat in order to have a good milk supply, how to evaluate the satiety of babies, etc.
  • Breastfeeding positions: different breastfeeding positions, how to put the baby to the breast, how to prevent or solve various breastfeeding problems.

In addition, Dispensary breastfeeding consultants offer individual counseling and, as necessary, make home visits, notably in cases involving Caesarean sections which can make it impossible, for a period of time, for new mothers to get to the Dispensary.

Groupe activities

As with the breastfeeding workshops, group activities are focused on providing more information about subjects broached by pregnant women and their husbands in their individual consultations. These activities also further the engagement of parents in the wellbeing of their families, while at the same time reducing the social isolation which often accompanies poverty.

Activities related to the diets of pregnant women, babies or the family in general, are given by the nutritionists;

  • Healthy cooking: how to prepare tasty and healthy meals with a limited budget? Let’s talk about it and get to work!
  • Eating well and getting into shape after pregnancy: what to eat and how to plan healthy meals? Also, exercises to do with baby.
  • Introduction of solid foods:  at what age should baby begin solid foods, which foods and in what order? What to do if baby does not want to eat, is constipated or has diarrhea? What is the difference between homemade purees and commercially prepared ones?
  • Preparation of purees: how to prepare and preserve baby purees? What to offer to baby and in what order? What equipment should be used? What hygienic measures are necessary? Let’s get cooking!
  • Feeding babies from 1 to 5 years of age: what foods do children need and in what quantities? What to do if the child refuses a certain food or always eats the same foods or eats very little?

Preparation for birth, the development of parental skills, child development and networking, amongst other subjects, are addressed by our perinatal experts, community worker and early childhood consultant, and sometimes also by experts from other organizations. Volunteers are available to provide support, especially with networking activities.

  • Healthy pregnancy: what are the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy and what are the stages of development of the baby? What exercises help to relieve discomfort?
  • Preparation for childbirth: how do the bodies of the mother and the baby react before, during and after childbirth? How to best prepare for birth through exercise and relaxation techniques, etc.? What are the options and rights at the moment of birth?
  • Birth of the baby and baby care: what to buy for the baby (furniture, equipment, clothes, cleaning products)? How to bathe a baby? How to know when the baby is ill?
  • Contraception and feminine health (just for women): understanding the menstrual cycle. What type of contraception to use during and after breastfeeding? Feminine health.
  • First Aid: preventing accidents. What to do when accidents happen? CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
  • Knitting : learn to knit … for the newborn… but also to forge links, meet other parents, share experiences, etc.
  • Friday outings, parties or activities: social outings to discover the City of Montreal, storytelling or reading for children, baby massage, theme days (e.g. Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, etc.): other occasions at which to share a good time with other families and make all sorts of discoveries.

Family space

For women to be able to attend group activities, a daycare is available at the Dispensary. This can be a first opportunity for children to socialize while their mothers have a short break and rest. The family also has access to Dispensary staff who can answer questions on child development and the feelings they may be experiencing during this stage of life.

Les services en nutrition sociale du Dispensaire s’adressent aux femmes enceintes ayant de faibles revenus, ainsi qu’à leurs conjoints qui sont bienvenus tant aux consultations individuelles qu’aux activités de groupe.

Pour vous inscrire, il suffit d’appeler au 514 937-5375 ou de remplir le formulaire Web disponible à la section “Nous joindre” .  Nous vous rappellerons pour procéder à votre inscription soit par téléphone ou pour prendre rendez-vous, dans le cas où vous souhaiteriez vous déplacer pour l’inscription. Il faut prévoir entre 20 et 30 minutes pour l’inscription.

Pour vous préparer, ayez en note le poids à la naissance de vos enfants (si vous en avez déjà!), ainsi que votre poids avant la grossesse et au moment de l’appel.  Nous vous poserons également  des questions sur votre état de santé et sur vos sources de revenus.