I was blessed to be invited to attend and speak to a special gathering of women at the UK North Fork Valley Community Health Center in Hazard, Kentucky on Thursday. This gathering was of the Centering Pregnancy Program that was started at the center in January of this year, about a month before I began Birth True. I had seen this model of prenatal care on television through the KET documentary, Born Too Soon. However, seeing such a program work first hand, in the mountain area I call home, brought great joy to my heart.
The Centering Pregnancy Program is an Excellent Opportunity for Expecting Mothers
I reached the center at 9am and entered a room full of women casually talking, walking around, and eating some snacks. The room was furnished with comfortable seating, classical music was playing, and the room was lit by lamplight. I noticed some nurses sitting at a table organizing charts and insurance cards. Behind a partition in the room the midwife Carrie Lee-Hall, MSN, CNM, WHCNP, NP-C along with a midwifery student from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing was giving a mother her prenatal examination. They listened to the baby with a doppler and measured the fundal height. The mother asked questions. Another mother was at a table with a nurse checking her own blood pressure and recording her weight, urine specimens sat on a tray in the corner. There was also blood being drawn from an expecting mother in the room for glucose testing.
In the relaxed bustle of the room, I noticed the efficiency of how the women were being seen. No one was waiting on care. No one seemed frustrated. All questions were being answered as they were asked. It seemed as if a community had been formed. A community of women caring for one another.
During the two hours I spent with the group, the women received their prenatal checkup including any labwork they needed. All the women in the group were expecting in a similar time period. Post pregnancy birth control and the signs and causes of preterm labor were discussed. Everyone shared their baby’s name, if they knew. Then, I presented prenatal exercise to keep pregnancy as comfortable as possible and to prepare for labor and birth. We talked about squatting, pelvic tilts, options for pain management in labor and some of the pros and cons of the available options. But, what was the most beautiful was that choices were clear and supported.
Centering Pregnancy Provides Education of Options
Carrie Lee-Hall, CNM is in practice with Drs. Case and Dawson OB/GYN and attend their birthing patients at Hazard, Appalachian Regional Hospital. They are working to build the new program for prenatal care, and advise women of their options for that care. Participating in the Centering Pregnancy Program is the choice of the expecting mother. Lee-Hall was supportive of women’s choices and positive about the capability of woman to give birth naturally if she so chooses and is properly prepared. She was open and honest about her own experiences both as a midwife and mother. It created a sense of bonding and trust. It was apparent that Lee-Hall was encouraging the women in the group to be as active as they desired in how they brought their baby into the world. She wasn’t holding back from any topic that was brought up for discussion. It was a reassuring model for patient and care provider relationship in the prenatal period.
Positive Prenatal Care in the Kentucky Mountains
I most definitely see the availability of this model of care to the women of the southeastern Kentucky mountains as a positive step forward in the future of birth options in the region. Support for women knowing their options and choosing their options as they see fit within ethical reason is an important component of keeping birth safe and joyful. Centering Pregnancy should be embraced as a program that brings choices and patient involvement to the surface of prenatal care.