LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A one-stop shop is now open to support expectant and new mothers among at-risk groups.
The Granny’s Birth Initiative is a maternity pantry that offers maternity or baby clothes, formula, and other basic necessities along with a diaper bank and, in the near future, a milk bank. The organization takes appointments for 30 minute sessions. During sessions, the clients can select 10 infant items, one book, one blanket and five adult care items each month for free. The organization hopes to have breast milk available by the end of the month.
GBI was started by Alexa Hughes, a doula who personally saw through her work the need that’s out there – particularly for women who are homeless, recently incarcerated, or teen moms — particularly ones who are in foster care.
“This is a serious need, this is a serious matter,” said Hughes. “One in three families cannot afford diapers.”
She says the pantry offers beyond what you can see in the store.
“A lot of people don’t know as well that this space is just too small for us to bring the larger donations that people are giving. People have given me bassinet strollers, cribs, all that stuff,” said Hughes.
Hughes says if parents list off those bigger items they may need while making an appointment – she can make sure to bring them for pick-up. If it’s an item they don’t have yet – GBI will try to find it ahead of the appointment to make sure families get their needs met.
Those who’ve taken advantage of the pantry have been grateful.
“They are very, very excited because most of them did not know that they had such an opportunity because they had not really heard about Granny’s Birth Initiative,” said Gracie Lewis, an administrative assistant. “We’re looking forward to being able to get more out into the community.”
“Things have been going great. 110 percent great. As Ms. Gracie said, the love and appreciation is wonderful,” said Hughes.
As a doula, Hughes says offering formula – and particularly breast milk, is critical for infant health.
“When we talk about the maternal health crisis, and the black maternal health crisis, a lot of people think once you make it through the birth that you’re good, but most people are passing in the postpartum stage,” said Hughes. “That goes for mom and baby, and baby’s threat is low baby weight. So the best solution for that is donor milk.”
She hopes with enough monetary donations, the milk can be offered free to families in need until GBI can get grant funding. Otherwise, breast milk costs more than $4 an ounce.
GBI does accept monetary and material donations at the Logan Street Market the second Sunday of every month. According to its latest newsletter, GBI’s high need items include:
- New bottles
- Diapers (all sizes)
- Nursing bras
- Infant hygiene products
- Menstrual pads
- Belly binders
- Nipple cream, covers, shields
Monetary donations can also be made through Venmo: @GBIKY
The maternity pantry opened in May.