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Health Ministry Toolkit

Health ministry has long been my passion and calling. Even before health ministry became common in the Black Church, I shared my public health nursing expertise with my local church. I helped members understand their medication regime and link to affordable health services and prescriptions. I screened for high blood pressure and provided resources or counseling to help them understand their health conditions. When the opportunity to formally study faith community nursing as a specialty presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity to pursue my passion. I was in the first graduating class from my seminary with a graduate degree in Ministry and a concentration in Faith Community Nursing.

Combining ministry education and nursing with my calling to serve the people of God has been my joy.  I’ve continued the joy of this work for over 17 years. It is now my honor to make myself available to the broader faith community through B'more for Healthy Babies’ Faith-Based Initiative. My goal is to work with church ministries to help them understand how faith intersects with health practices and how they can introduce maternal and child health into their church culture. I look forward to partnering with you in this great work to support young families, pregnant and postpartum women, and babies to thrive and be healthy.

- Rev. Angela Burden, RN

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Faith communities have long understood the call to heal the sick and care for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. But what if that call could be extended to the prevention of disease that will improve the health of generations to come? 


When we support mothers and their partners to be as healthy as possible before, during, and after pregnancy – and to provide a safe and healthy home for their baby – we are helping families today and investing in the future. By making sure that every baby has the best start possible, we can feel more confident that when those babies grow up to be healthier adults, they’ll have healthier babies, too!


The Health Ministry Toolkit was designed by B’more for Healthy Babies to help faith communities focus on promoting maternal and child health in their congregations and communities. Whether you’re just starting to plan for a health ministry, or your church already has one, this toolkit is for you. We have advice, tips, and links to resources for health ministries of every size and type!

If you would like additional assistance, please contact Rev.  Angela Burden, MA, RN at ABHeiress@gmail.com or 443-983-1184.

  • Why should my baby sleep alone? I feel safer with my baby near me.
    We know that when parents sleep in the same bed as their baby, they are trying to do what they think is best. Unfortunately, co-sleeping is really dangerous. Most sleep-related deaths in Baltimore happen when babies sleep with an adult or with other children. Remember, it doesn't take much for a baby to suffocate. Co-sleeping is a common practice in some cultures. While it is wonderful to preserve most cultural traditions, some need to be adapted. For example, American beds are soft, high, and have a lot of blankets and pillows. These features make them unsafe for babies. If you are worried about bonding, keeping your baby's crib in your room is a great idea! Share a room, not a bed.
  • My baby sleeps better when they’re next to me. What are some other ways to soothe them?
    The sleep habits you set now will carry into childhood. When you put your baby to sleep in a crib from the beginning, they will get used to it. You will also be able to sleep better and more soundly knowing your baby is safe. Here are some of the things that you can do to help your baby sleep peacefully in their crib: Swaddle your baby (NOTE: you should stop swaddling when your baby starts to roll over) Create a bedtime routineUse a pacifier Give your baby a massage The first few weeks with a baby are rewarding, but the lack of sleep can be challenging. Hang in there. It will get better.
  • But isn't my baby more likely to choke on their back?
    Many parents believe that babies are more likely to choke if they sleep on their back. This is not true. In fact, your baby is LESS likely to choke on his or her back. Watch the video clip understand why.
  • What if my baby can roll over?
    Once babies are able to roll over from back to stomach on their own, there is no need to watch or reposition them during sleep. Babies should still be placed on their backs for sleep, but you don't need to worry about keeping them that way. Do not use a pillow or rolled up blanket to keep your baby on his or her back. These items increase the chances of your baby suffocating.
  • My older relatives say that they put their babies to sleep on their stomach.
    You may hear from older relatives that they put their babies to sleep on their stomachs. A lot has changed in the last 20 years and we now know a lot more about infant safety. In fact, when pediatricians began recommending that babies sleep on their back, the number of babies dying in their sleep dropped dramatically.
  • Why do I need to get a crib for my baby to sleep?
    The crib is the ONLY safe place for your baby to sleep. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed or couch or with pillows, cushions or stuffed animals. Your baby could be suffocated in these soft materials. Your baby also could become trapped in between cushions on a couch or get stuck between the bed and the wall. These tragic situations occur all too frequently in Baltimore City.
  • Won't my baby get cold without a sheet or blanket?
    Dress your baby in a sleeper for warmth, but do not use blankets or allow your baby to get too warm. Overheating can be a risk for SIDS. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in the same amount of layers that you are wearing. If the room temperature is comfortable for you, then it is also comfortable for your baby.
  • Is it safe for my baby to wear a sleep sack?
    Sleep sacks and wearable blankets can be part of a safe sleep routine. Because these are an extra layer, be mindful of overheating, a leading cause of SIDS. You can avoid overheating by following this rule: when inside, dress your baby in the same number of layers that you are wearing. If a room's temperature is comfortable for you, it's comfortable for your baby. Please also remember that not every product that is marketed for safe sleep is actually safe, even if it is sold in stores or online. For example, weighted sleepwear is not safe. Before you purchase these products, it is important to do your research and to ask your baby's doctor. To check if a product has ever been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Recall List.
  • What kind of crib should I get for my baby?
    Your baby’s crib does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe. There are many types of stationary and portable cribs (such as a Pack ‘n Play™ or the portable crib given out by HealthCare Access Maryland) that are safe—you just have to make sure that it meets current safety guidelines. When purchasing a crib, look for Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification. If you borrow a crib, check to make sure that the slats are no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. Widely spaced slats can trap an infant's head. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. The crib sheet should fit tightly all the way around and under the mattress. Nothing else should be in the crib with your baby – no quilts, blankets, comforters, pillows, bumper pads, stuffed animals, or soft toys. Car seats and infant carriers should not be used as your baby’s bed. Your baby could get knocked over or roll over. It’s just not worth taking a risk.
  • Why is it important to have a smoke-free home?
    Babies who breathe in smoke are more likely to have lifelong health problems. They are also more likely to die while sleeping. Smoke is a houseguest that always overstays its welcome. Even if you open a window, it drifts around the house and even stays in fabrics and dust. Keep the air in your home clean by asking smokers to go outside. Here are some tips to make your home smoke-free: Ask smokers to smoke outside Get all ashtrays, matches, and lighters out of your home Post a sign on your front door so visitors know not to smoke 

  • Doesn't my baby need to spend time on their tummy?
    Yes! You can provide 'tummy time' when he is awake and being watched. This will help strengthen his neck and arm muscles and prevent flat spots on the back of his head.

Questions?

Reach out to Rev. Angela Burden, RN, B’more for Healthy Babies Faith Community Nurse Coordinator for assistance with creating or enhancing a health ministry in your church. 

Ready to get started?

Learn more by clicking on the links below.

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