October 2022 Update

As the leaves turn and the kids anticipate Halloween, the month of October signals a different emphasis for those of us in the maternal and infant health area. Safe Sleep Awareness Month is in full swing as we engage in strategies designed to mitigate this most preventable, yet common, cause of infant death.

The message of safe sleep is a simple one. Place baby on its back, in a crib, without objects, including blankets in the crib. The practice of it is more difficult as we fight some of our nurturing instincts that conflict with adherence. Many unsafe sleep deaths result when a parent is co-sleeping with the baby, placing it under blankets to keep it warm or placing on its tummy. Resistance to practicing safe sleep may be culturally-embedded as generations have kept baby close during the early bonding process. Lack of access to a crib and/or separate sleep space can also result in tragedy or it may come down to simply not understanding safe sleep practices.

At Nurture KC, we address the issue in multiple ways:

  • At an individual level, our community health workers provide safe sleep education to our parents, along with a pack ‘n play, demonstrating safe sleep simply and directly for easy compliance.
  • At a systems level, we help area hospitals achieve safe sleep certification to introduce and reinforce the practice as soon as the baby is born. Providence Medical Center and Liberty Hospital are our first two area hospitals to receive our Nurturing Safe Sleep Award.
  • At a community level, Nurture KC partnered with Charlie’s House to develop an educational video demonstrating safe sleep to be shared across the city this month. (Watch the video below.)

Underpinning all of these efforts is a recognition to lead with positivity and encouragement as the best way to facilitate safe sleep for babies. 

Tracy Russell

Executive Director, Nurture KC

In honor of Safe Sleep Awareness Month,

Nurture KC + Charlie's House present:

"What does safe sleep look like for baby?"

Nurture KC + Charlie's House present - What does safe sleep look like for baby?

An in-depth look at Nurture KC in The Kanas City Star

Last Sunday's edition of The Kansas City Star featured a cover story titled: "Missouri is one of the worst places to have a baby. It doesn't have to be." by Lisa Gutierrez and Anna Spoerre. Nurture KC was key to this in-depth feature article showing how we help pregnant moms with tangible results. In fact, Nurture KC's Maternal Morbidity Report spurred the article.

A few highlights of the article worth noting if you're short on time:

"Nurture KC has also launched a pilot program to provide doulas to 25 high-risk women. 'I think that’s really the next frontier if we are serious about women’s health and infant health because having that support system and an advocate, it will improve outcomes, and we’ve seen that happen elsewhere, and that would be an incredible step forward if Missouri and Kansas as well would look at that issue,' said Russell of Nurture KC. Studies show that pregnant women who have doulas at their side have fewer babies with low birth weights and fewer C-sections."


"As a lead community health worker at Nurture KC, Metcalf helps expectant and new mothers from the 14 poorest ZIP codes in the metro access the care and knowledge they need to thrive. On a recent crisp fall morning at Nurture KC’s midtown office, Metcalf spoke with Fabiola Irias, a mother of three with a fourth baby on the way. Irias held her hand to her round belly as they sat together, a shelf stacked high with free diapers behind them. A poster above them read 'Papas Bienvenidos' -- Welcome Fathers. Metcalf spoke with Irias, who is expecting a girl in December, about asking for plenty of time to hold her baby, skin to skin, at the hospital to help with breastfeeding. They talked about counting the baby’s kicks in the third trimester as an easy way to track early warning signs of trouble.

'Irias, who recently moved to the United States, is without a car, so Nurture KC arranges for a taxi to bring her to and from her monthly appointments. On a recent Wednesday she left with a new diaper bag, one of the first gifts for her new baby. Before she left, Irias embraced Metcalf, tears filling her eyes. She’s never felt so supported in a pregnancy before, she said. Irias is one of more than 40 families Metcalf works with through Nurture KC’s federally funded Healthy Start program, meant to help the most at-risk families. Part of the program teaches how to keep sleeping babies safe. Staff members visit mothers and their newborns at home when they ask for the extra support in the 18 months after giving birth. They help them navigate postpartum depression, sign their baby up for Medicaid, find food and clothing banks, even connect them with immigration lawyers. But more than anything Metcalf is someone families can talk to, face to face.

'If most moms can have somebody that visits and provides information where they are, I think that is key,' Metcalf said. In a perfect world, she added, every new family would have postpartum home visitations if they wanted them."

Congratulations to Liberty Hospital

Nurture KC is proud to name Liberty Hospital as a "Nurturing Safe Sleep Champion." The hospital adopted a safe sleep policy for babies, trained staff accordingly and provides corresponding education to parents per standards set by Cribs for Kids. Nurture KC facilitated the education and certification process. 

"Liberty's staff is making a difference in the lives of new parents, and we applaud them for their work," says Tracy Russell, Executive Director of Nurture KC. “Practicing safe sleep for babies is one of the most simple and effective tools in preventing infant death. In Kansas City, unsafe sleep accounts for 16 percent of all infant deaths, and 24 percent of Black infant deaths. These deaths are preventable. Our goal is for every area hospital to complete this certification and, ultimately, save lives.”

Liberty Hospital staff (pictured below with Nurture KC staff) joins Providence Medical Center in receiving this distinction.

Still need your flu or COVID-19 vaccine?

The Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC), a program of Nurture KC, has two remaining vaccine clinics:

All clinics are free and open to the public. The vaccines are provided by WalgreensWalk-ins are welcome or you can sign up for an appointment at www.nurturekc.org/clinics. You also can see more details via this link, including age requirements and location addresses.

Note: The clinic at Nurture KC will offer flu vaccines, while the clinic at The Salvation Army in Olathe will offer both COVID-19 and flu vaccines.


THANK YOU to Frieda Tresvan for renewing your membership.

THANK YOU to the Platte County Health Department for

renewing membership at the Patron Level.

JOIN US and help support families
Join or renew your membership today.
Thank you for your support!
Donations in any amount will help us continue our work of improving the lives of KC metro area families. For detailed information about our programs, CLICK HERE.
‌ ‌DONATE‌ ‌
1111 W. 39th Street, Ste 100
Kansas City, MO 64111
See what's happening on our social media channels:
Facebook  Twitter