Fort Campbell, KY – A group-centered prenatal care program at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital (BACH) provides pregnant women the opportunity to connect and learn at their prenatal care appointments with other mothers who have similar due dates.
The concept is called Centering Pregnancy and in addition to all standard prenatal health screenings, it adds interactive learning and community building.
“Centering brings pregnant women together in healthcare groups of eight to 12 women, for 10, two hour-sessions, to share in their pregnancy journey, guided by their healthcare team. You get 10 times more time with your provider in Centering than you would in a traditional prenatal setting. Patients get all the screenings provided in a typical prenatal appointment, plus you get to build a support group and community with other moms and support people,” said Lacey Fee, a registered nurse from the hospital’s Women’s Health Department.
Fee serves as the Centering Pregnancy program coordinator and recently formed the hospital’s first group since COVID.
“This is our first centering session for this group and it gave all the moms and their support person an opportunity to get to know one another,” said Fee. Centering participants may bring one support person to each session, typically their partner, for shared learning.
The centering coordinator and another nurse remain with the group to answer questions the moms may have and share information relevant to the current stage in their pregnancy.
“We have topics and activities for each session but the group will really direct where they want the discussion to go,” said Fee. At this first session, moms learned about prenatal nutrition, physical activity during pregnancy and had the opportunity to share how they found out they were pregnant and how they told their partner.
Centering moms can include active-duty and military spouses.
“It looked interesting and just a way to meet other moms,” said Centering participant Allyson Hunter. The military spouse is one of nine women in the new group. Hunter said she enjoyed getting to know her fellow Centering members.
The group will meet nine more times over the course of their pregnancy allowing the women to form bonds and build friendships. The program is also a good way for moms to share information about military lifestyles and resources.
“Especially for the military community, where women may be far from extended family, their partner may deploy or go to the field, it’s just a really good way for moms to get to know each other, have a support system and learn about pregnancy together,” said Fee.
Former Centering participants agree.
“To this day, I still stay in touch with some of the other moms I met through centering,” said Brittany Castles, a military spouse at Fort Campbell and former Centering Pregnancy participant. Castles said her family was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, at that time and her group was through Evans Army Community Hospital.
“Although we are separated all over the states [now]. These families were such a good support system while we were all navigating our new parenthood journey. It was so nice to have the support of other people experiencing the same things at the same time.”
Currently, new Centering groups are formed each month as pregnancies are confirmed. Newly expectant mothers who are interested in participating in Centering Pregnancy should talk with their healthcare provider during their initial pregnancy intake.