FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A new prenatal program at Fort Campbell is gaining in popularity.
The Army post began offering a program called CenteringPregnancy last summer with help from Madisonville, Ky.-based Trover Health System.
Lt. Col. Robin O'Dell told The Kentucky New Era that the approach works particularly well for the needs of the military community.
Pregnant women in the program get most of their prenatal treatment in support groups instead of individual visits with doctors.
Women who opt for the alternative approach join support groups that have four to 11 other women who all have due dates in the same month. A nurse, midwife or doctor meets with the women as a group for 10 sessions lasting two hours each.
"Our providers are loving it, and I personally love it, because we don't have to worry about time constraints," said O'Dell, who is assistant chief of Fort Campbell's Department of Women's Health. "Patients are a lot more relaxed."
She said women on active duty and soldiers' wives who live at military installations usually don't have extended family close by and sometimes have partners who are deployed. She said a network of other pregnant women to rely on can help tremendously.
A nurse-midwife in Connecticut developed the approach more than a decade ago and her work led to the Centering Healthcare Institute, a nonprofit organization that teaches the model across the nation.
Trover's Women's Health Center began using the model in 2006, according to nurse manager LeAnn Todd, who said the program builds comfort and trust between women and their providers, and that makes the women feel more like partners in their treatment.
"I think that's where rural health care needs to go," Todd said. "I think it's trying to. It just needs models of care to get there."
O'Dell says women learn from others in their group. She is currently leading a group that includes active-duty women, civilians whose husbands are deployed and a civilian who is single. Some already have children.
"And they learn from all those diverse backgrounds," she said.
Six midwives and two nurse practitioners are currently leading groups at the Army post, but O'Dell says by the end of July, she expects to have 16 groups.
O'Dell said she hopes the program will lead to an increase in breastfeeding rates and a decrease in the rates of infant mortality and premature births.
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