Hi Pure Living Nashville readers! My name is Elise Jenkins and I am the co-founder and Executive Director of Ella’s House, a new Nashville nonprofit that serves pregnant and parenting collegiate women.
The story of Ella’s House starts long before we opened our doors in 2022. As a 6th grader, freshly off my 3rd round of failed chemotherapy, I was told that the only treatment option left for my leukemia would be total body radiation followed by a bone marrow transplant. Along with this came numerous side effects, the least worrisome at the time being the guarantee of never having biological children. Fast forward 10 years and I was a dedicated college student about to start my senior year at Auburn University. You can probably imagine my shock (and everyone’s) when what I thought was a stomach bug turned out to be a positive pregnancy test. I was terrified, despondent, and felt so alone. Through the support of my boyfriend (now husband), family, and friends I was able to complete my degree and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl—Ella Rae! Ella’s House came out of not only my personal experience with a yearning for connection and community during that time, but the countless stories shared that highlight the need for resources and support for this often-overlooked demographic.
In Nashville alone, there were over 10,000 pregnant and parenting students in 2020. These numbers are staggering considering the lack of resources that currently serve this population. At Ella’s House, we work to provide holistic help by offering free housing, mental health and wellness initiatives, and community for the student moms of Nashville. Prenatal anxiety and depression are extremely common and at Ella’s House, we work every day to ensure women have support throughout their journeys.
Move. Recommendations from both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggest that pregnant women with no underlying medical conditions should do regular aerobic and strength training during their pregnancy. Whatever movement feels good—whether it’s walking with a friend, dancing alone at home, or crushing a workout at the gym—can help to mitigate some of the stress and anxiety that comes with pregnancy.
Self-Care. Taking good care of oneself can play a huge role in mitigating the effects of prenatal anxiety and depression. Whether self-care looks more like walks and baths or just saying no to more and clearing space in the day, self-care is an important and often free tool women can use during this exciting and often stressful period.
Call a Professional. At Ella’s House, our women have the option to go to counseling in addition to having regular contact with our live-in doula and their OB. Reaching out to a therapist or a doctor can sound intimidating but both have a variety of tools to help women who find themselves struggling with prenatal anxiety or depression
For more information on Ella’s House, to apply, or to get involved please visit our website at www.ellashouse.org.