Teaming up with the Health Center and ward Relief Societies, Sister Kathy Edgar, the senior missionary in charge of the Visiting Nurse Program at BYU–Hawaii, said she visits students who are in need of counsel. She teaches them knowledge on how to be prepared for childbirth and parenting.
Edgar said she graduated from the nursing school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As a nurse, she experienced taking care of pregnant women and newborns. She is a certified International Board Lactation Consultant.
The Visiting Nurse Program is an educational visiting program for students who are new parents. Edgar said the program was created by another senior missionary named Sister Black.
“Sister Black saw a need in many young mothers who didn’t have their mothers to be with them when they had babies. They were a little lost and didn’t know what to expect.”
Eli Harris, a junior from Missouri studying English education whose wife recently had a baby, said, “Kids are great. It’s awesome to have an army of nurses and family here to look out for them. They’re precious. It’s good to know there are others looking out for the little ones, not just the parents.”
In a month prior to a child birth, Edgar said she meets with both the mother and the father and teaches them what to expect during childbirth, such as how the father could help support the mother.
After new parents bring their newborn baby home, Edgar said she would make at least three more visits to them, each time for a different purpose. In the first visit, Edgar said she ensures the mother’s health is good and she educates the new parents about breast feeding and sleep safety for infants.
“I also do the first bath [for the baby] with them if they want,” explained Edgar.
In the second visit, Edgar said she does an examination of the baby’s health and coaches the parents on how to feed the baby well. She also follows up on the emotional needs of the parents, Edgar said.
Talking about the importance of maintaining good mental health with a newborn, Edgar said depression is common ailment among new parents. “[It] has a lot to do with their mothers being away. Also both [parents] are students and they’re bringing a new life into the family.”
In the third visit, Edgar said she educates the parents about vaccinations for the baby, when to call a doctor, when to go to the emergency room, how to take care of the baby’s teeth, and birth control.
Edgar expressed how much she cares for the students. She said, “I make sure the mother has a doctor’s appointment for the baby and herself, and I ask whether they would want to continue [to be visited] or if they feel secure. I visited some of the girls for several months.”
Edgar said she tries to be as flexible as possible to the mothers’ needs outside of the curriculum. She shared, “I pray before going to visit each day and ask Heavenly Father to guide me and what the particular needs of that mother are.”
New parent, Genysie Van Duren, a senior from Colorado majoring in art, expressed her gratitude for Edgar. “There was a time when I wasn’t sure whether I was doing it right. It’s good to have Sister Edgar help me reassure I’m doing it right and make sure my baby is good between the actual doctor visits.”
How can students contact edgar?
Edgar said she contacts all pregnant students so students don’t have to worry about how to get into the Visiting Nurse Program.
“I have a list of pregnant girls from the Relief Society and the Health Center. But once I missed a girl from both the Health Center and the Relief Society. I felt terrible that I missed one mother,” shared Edgar.
Edgar said if a pregnant student is overlooked by the Visiting Nurse Program, or if she wants help from the program earlier, she may contact Sister Edgar through Facebook Messenger, where she could be found by her name, Kathy Edgar.
Help from others and the school
Edgar expressed gratitude for the Health Center and other individuals helping pregnant students on campus. She said the program could not exist without the Health Center.
“The doctors and nurses there [at the Health Center] always return my calls and immediately see any mothers and babies I am worried about. The Health Center also has purchased all the supplies we use in our birth class.”
Edgar said another senior missionary, Sister Jane Beuhring from Utah, has made a blanket for every new mother on campus for the last two years. “She works in the Title IX Offices, but she buys all the materials and does it on her own.”
Sister Jane Beuhring expressed her love for the newborns on campus. “I just love those little babies. They grow up really fast. If it’s just one little thing, a gift for them, I’m happy to provide that.”
Edgar said, “The program has been a joy for me. I admire these mothers. The majority of them are students. They work. Their husbands too. I admire the way they work together to raise the new little life in their home.
“It’s one of the greatest joys in my life. Serving as a missionary, you develop a great love. I could feel how much Heavenly Father loves them. I also pray I could make them understand how much Heavenly Father loves them and He loves their babies. They’re his children as well.”
Sister Edgar is finishing her mission soon and hopes the program can continue. “[The Church’s website] is advertising for another senior missionary to replace me. Hopefully, they’ll get another one to continue.”
Childbirth education class
A childbirth education class is also held in the Relief Society room at the Stake Center every Tuesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. The contents of the course include preparation for delivery, newborn care, and breast feeding, according to Edgar.
Students may register for the class by sending an e-mail to Birthclass@byuh.edu. Husbands are also encouraged to join the class, said Sister Edgar.