PITTSBURG — Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is offering a new kind of affordable prenatal healthcare for pregnant women in Crawford and Cherokee counties.
According to a press release, the new program, sponsored by March of Dimes, is called CenteringPregnancy® and aims to bring together 8 to 10 pregnant women with similar due dates for group support and education in addition to regular prenatal appointments.
Each session is about two hours long, giving women more face-to-face time with medical providers but without the extra cost.
“Pregnancy can be a stressful time especially if it’s the first time,” said Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Linda Bean. “Centering combines the routine check-ups with interactive learning, sharing and support with other women who are having the same experiences.”
The release said expectant mothers will also take an active role in their health care, learning to check and monitor their own vital signs.
“We show them how to take and record their weight and blood pressure,” Bean said. “They are able to go directly to the group room without having to wait at check-in or in an exam room for the appointment to start.”
Bean said empowering women to be active participants in their own healthcare will not only make them feel more prepared but will also improve birth outcomes.
“They feel less overwhelmed because they have the knowledge and confidence to make healthy decisions,” she said. “It creates a better, less stressful experience for the moms which leads to better, healthier babies.”
The press release said research indicates CenteringPregnancy not only reduces the rate of preterm births and babies with low birth rates, but also decreases tobacco and substance abuse among participants. Bean cited the communal atmosphere as the program’s greatest benefit.
“The sessions are very interactive and allow the moms to connect by sharing their own experiences, stories and questions,”  Bean said. “Having that social and emotional support system is key.”
Women interested in the CenteringPregnancy program should reach out to CHC/SEK by calling 620-231-9873.