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Healthy Baby Program Resumes


Raising a baby is hard, whether it is already born or still growing in a mother’s womb, and Healthy Baby is a program that can help assist new and expectant mothers insure that life has a good start.
Funded by the provincial government through Healthy Child Manitoba, and facilitated through Prairie Mountain Health, Healthy Baby helps mothers through two different ways: a community support program and the Manitoba Prenatal Benefit.
The Manitoba Prenatal Benefit is for anybody that is pregnant and living in Manitoba with a net family income of less than $32,000 per year.
“You can start receiving a monthly benefit during your pregnancy at the 14th week, up to $81 a month, and that’s income dependent, so it could be less depending on your income,” said Healthy Baby Coordinator Shauna Woodmass, who oversees all 19 Healthy Baby programs within the Prairie Mountain Health region.
This monthly benefit is intended to help parents buy healthy foods to sustain the mother and the growing baby during the pregnancy.
The second part of Healthy Baby that all Manitoba mothers can benefit from is the community support program, which is for anyone who is pregnant or has a baby up to one year of age.
Swan River’s sessions are typically held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, starting at 1 p.m.. Normally, the sessions are held in Temple Baptist Church, but the sessions in August and September (Aug. 11 and 25, Sept. 8 and 22) will be offered outdoors at Swan River Legion Park, following safety protocols and public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The facilitator for these sessions is Diane Maydaniuk.
“(At these sessions), there is usually a set topic that is discussed, which is chosen by the facilitator based on the needs of the participant or some of their suggestions,” said Woodmass. “It’s a chance to ask questions about pregnancy and learn about babies’ growth and development.
“Getting out of the house and out of that social isolation is also a big benefit, getting to know other moms and other parents that come to the program. There is always information on nutrition and breastfeeding shared, and parenting tips.”
Woodmass added that a healthy snack is often available, and sometime a public health nurse as well, depending on the site.
Another big incentive for attending these sessions is the milk coupons that are available, which gives parents the ability to purchase up to 16 litres of milk per month for free, redeemable at any grocery store.
“Anybody who comes during their pregnancy and then if they come once their baby is born until baby is six months of age, they’ll receive coupons for free milk,” said Woodmass. “People will be asked if they want them each time they come if they would like them. They can deny or accept based on what their own need is, but they will be asked every time within those months of eligibility.”
Registration is not required for the Healthy Baby community support program, nor is it required to attend every session.
“People can just attend as it fits their schedule,” said Woodmass. “Most sites also have a child-minder, so we can offer child-minding for any pre-school children who are above the age of one and not quite in school. If mom doesn’t know what to do with the older child or children, that is an option to bring them to the program. This is site dependent on whether or not we are able to find a volunteer.”
She added that Healthy Baby is often spread through a lot of word-of-mouth, either through mothers who have attended themselves in the past, or through public health nurses or Families First home visitors within public health. Public health also does well to promote the program through various advertising methods as well.
“There are lots of opportunities for moms to interact, babies to interact and get that information, knowledge and support from either peers or healthcare providers,” Woodmass concluded.

Jeremy Bergen