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Moms, physicians unite for ‘Centering Pregnancy’ group

Airman 1st Class Kelsey Palmer, a new mom with the 375th Force Support Squadron, holds her 6-week old son during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group's goal is to help moms-to-be prepare for motherhood and find other military families going through the same family changes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

Airman 1st Class Kelsey Palmer, a new mom with the 375th Force Support Squadron, holds her 6-week old son during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group's goal is to help moms-to-be prepare for motherhood and find other military families going through the same family changes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

Col. James Jablonski, 375th Medical Group family residency program master academician, talks with new moms during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. Jablonski is one of the family medicine physicians who facilitate the support group, another of which will be starting in January. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

Col. James Jablonski, 375th Medical Group family residency program master academician, talks with new moms during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. Jablonski is one of the family medicine physicians who facilitate the support group, another of which will be starting in January. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

Family medicine physicians discuss raising young children during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group reunited to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

Family medicine physicians discuss raising young children during a Centering Pregnancy support group reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group reunited to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

A new mom talks about what she liked about the Centering Pregnancy support group during a reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group reunited to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

A new mom talks about what she liked about the Centering Pregnancy support group during a reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group reunited to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

New moms who participated in a Centering Pregnancy support group gathered for a reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group came together to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

New moms who participated in a Centering Pregnancy support group gathered for a reunion, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group came together to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

New moms who participated in a Centering Pregnancy support group gathered for a reunion along with family medicine physicians who either facilitated the group or delivered their babies, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group came together to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

New moms who participated in a Centering Pregnancy support group gathered for a reunion along with family medicine physicians who either facilitated the group or delivered their babies, Dec. 1, 2015, Belleville, Illinois. The support group came together to celebrate the birth of their children and discuss how the group helped them prepare for labor and the first weeks of their children's lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Eight new moms and their physicians met at the Belleville Family Medicine Clinic Dec. 1 to celebrate the arrival of their babies and to continue their dialogue as part of a "Centering Pregnancy" support group.

Centering Pregnancy is a program that is trending nationally as a way to support families, and is open to active duty members or their expectant family members.
Military physicians lead the discussions and Capt. Rebecca Hayes, a 375th Medical Group resident physician leader, said she believes these support groups help the overall pregnancy experience be a more positive one.

"Evidence shows that these pregnancies typically have better outcomes, which I attribute to the level of education and support that occurs during the meetings," she explained.

Members of the group are encouraged to share any issues they may be having so they can get answers, reassurance, or just support, according to Col. James Jablonski, 375th Medical Group family residency program master academician. He said the group gives them the opportunity to share and learn from others, and the program is dictated by what the new moms want to discuss. In this meeting the women discussed feedings, sleep habits, and other care issues.

"Participating in this support group is an important part of sharing the whole pregnancy process from before birth to their labor experiences. The group setting helps prepare each woman for motherhood by allowing them to discuss topics that may not come up during a routine obstetrician visit--the women do the teaching. As providers, we include routine care at the beginning of each meeting such as ordering labs and interpreting information for the patients. However, the best way adults learn is through each other and going through similar experiences," said Jablonski.

A new class will be starting in January, and the format will be similar to the current group. The moms-to-be arrive at the meeting, weigh themselves and record their blood pressure. The attending physicians listen to the fetal heartbeat and any further checkups can be done as well. When they circle around as a group, they discuss topics interactively and any further questions are welcomed by the group. Everyone gets a chance in the open forum to participate in the activities by themselves or with their spouses/significant others.

"You can tell how supportive these women are of each other," said Jablonski, "They were texting each other during their labors and staying up to date with each other."
Megan Fink, a new mom and spouse of a Marine stationed in California, said this support group has been extremely supportive, in addition to her own mother's help.
"Being a first time mom in the group you all have the same insecurities, so talking to them and getting clear answers from the professionals at the same time is really helpful," said Fink, "Having the chance to talk to everybody and having that support was huge. Even if it wasn't directly about the baby, and it was about me and the changes I was going through."

This post-delivery reunion for this group of moms and physicians brought the program full circle.

Hayes said, "The residents who help with the group are on call for and attend their deliveries at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and we enjoy having the infants return to see us as patients as well."

For more information about the overall program see the website: http://centeringhealthcare.org/pages/centering-model/pregnancy-overview.php.

If interested in signing up for the January Centering Pregnancy class, ask your obstetrician.