Julianna F.

Julianna Forrest loves the color pink, so when she had a baby shower for her daughter Isabella, everything had to be touched by it somehow. It’s her favorite color anyway but the anticipated birth of a little girl, after having two boys, ensured that everything from the cupcakes to the diapers would be the sweet, rosy color associated with girlhood.

Being a girl or more importantly, being a woman is also something Julianna, who most call Julie, loves and takes very seriously. She minored in Women’s studies while studying for her degree in Mental Health Counseling.

Julie has lived in Jacksonville most of her life but, when she became pregnant with her first son Josiah, now five, she wanted advice from someone who had seen a lot. Her aunt ran a home for women in Georgia and she knew there would be lots of helpful hints. It was there that she first heard of Healthy Start.

“I had heard that you could take a class, and then you earned points toward stuff for your baby,” she said, adding that she soon came to really appreciate learning everything from how to breastfeed, to the different changes her body would go through.

After having an unanticipated C-section, her connection to the encouraging women of the Children’s Home Society Healthy Start program has made a huge difference. During her last two pregnancies, she received calls from her case manager every few weeks.

The checking in has helped her understand what was happening to her body and be able to use the knowledge and resources of Healthy Start to make her pregnancy more comfortable. It has also helped her to move beyond the disappointment of not having her children vaginally. It made all the difference in the world to know what was going on and why.

“It’s been a comfort to me,” she said. “Something as simple as, ‘try ginger’ is helpful. There is so much that changes in a woman’s body.”

Her love of finding information is something she looks to share with others. She is profoundly committed to teaching other women about the importance of things like breastfeeding.

“I breast fed all of my babies. I’ll pump and keep a store so daddy can give it or have it ready for date nights,” she said.

Forrest looks for ways to bring breast feeding up anytime she is in the company of new moms.

“Make sure you’re doing the feed!” she tells them.

Through Healthy Start she has found the voice to teach other women about the changes their bodies are going through. Although being a mom of three keeps her busy, the desire to educate and counsel other women has inspired Julie to push on with her studies as a doctoral student.

“I want to be one of those inspiring teachers,” she said.