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Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division

Publish Date

April 10, 2018

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Jewel's story in print format

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PO Box 997420, MS 8300
Sacramento, CA 95899-7420
(866) 241-0395
(916) 650-0305 (Fax)

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Jewel's Story:
Focusing on the Positive


"The first time I walked in, I could be myself, and I thought, 'It's going to be okay,’" Jewel says of her first Black Infant Health (BIH) group meeting. She was pregnant, had just relocated to Sacramento from Southern California and found herself without nearby friends or family.  In this culturally affirming room of women, Jewel felt supported and comfortable.

Black Infant Health (BIH) aims to improve African-American infant and maternal health using group settings and individual case management for reducing stress, increasing emotional support and building empowerment of individuals and communities. The group experience builds social support, which empowers participants to make positive life choices.

In joining her local BIH, Jewel gained not only sisterhood, but she also learned about nutrition, stress management, African-American history and accessing resources for breastfeeding, car and sleep safety, and health behavior changes. This was invaluable to Jewel, who suffered from gestational diabetes and anxiety. She connected with other BIH women, and the group became friends and remain close a year after graduating from the program.

"BIH brought me closer to a bunch of different women who were going through the same things that I was going through, and I felt like I was not alone," Jewel says. "It taught me a lot about being empowered and knowledgeable. It's a very rewarding program. I absolutely loved it."

Kerene Tucker-Mais, Sacramento BIH group facilitator, explains that one of the best things about BIH program is "having a nonjudgmental place and people that support you."

Jewel also credits BIH with helping her focus on the positive instead of the negative, which not only helps reduce stress, but in her case, helped save her relationship with the father of her baby, who is now her husband. "I felt that the program helped me get closer to my now-husband, to be a better mom and to be a better woman because it taught me not only about empowerment, but that it's okay to lean on people for support. It's been one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Making Connections that Count

Friendships often develop from participation in the BIH program, and feeling emotionally supported during pregnancy and beyond is one of the core tenets of BIH. In Sacramento County, a group of eight women proves that this program creates strong and lasting connections—and their friendship has continued well past their graduation from BIH. The women socialize about once a month, sometimes with their children, sometimes without. They schedule dinners, do art activities and have special nights out, including a group favorite: karaoke. They also share a group text, and know that anytime they need support, it is just a text away. "I feel like they are my family," says Jewel, one of the Sacramento BIH Alumni. "To meet these women who have relationship and family problems, similar issues, I didn’t feel so alone. We stand by each other, and we have from the time we met. It was just like wow!"

Visit the Black Infant Health webpage for more information.

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