NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - For expectant parents, group prenatal classes are invaluable.
Labor and birth is often faced with anxiety, even fear, by expectant mothers, and these classes can help reduce the anxiety women may feel about labor and delivery, while also helping new parents adapt more easily to life with a newborn.
The Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada offers group prenatal classes for expecting mothers and their spouses. The program is rather new as the first iteration was in Oct. of 2016.
It was designed by Capt. Brittany Hannigan, 99th Surgical Operations Squadron Women’s Health Clinic certified nurse-midwife, with the assistance from other providers in the clinic, Family Medicine Residency and the nurses and technicians in the Women’s Health Clinic.
“The class takes 10 women whose delivery dates are around the same time and takes them out of their normal clinic appointment to do a two-hour appointment as a group,” said Hannigan. “The first class starts at their 20th week appointment and a new topic is covered at their 24, 28, 32, 36, 38, 39 and 40 week appointments.
“In addition to the presentation, they also have their normal vital signs taken so that they are not missing out on any medical care. We still check the baby’s growth, their weight, vital signs and make sure they receive the vaccines that they need. It doesn’t take away any medical care, it just adds additional information.”
According to several research studies including those published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, group prenatal classes have been shown to decrease c-sections, preterm births, the length of hospital stays, and increase breastfeeding rates, empowerment, efficiency, social support and education.
“We are a medical facility and we follow evidence based care and the benefits are just huge for the patients and the hospital,” said Hannigan. “The increased patient satisfaction has been a huge part of this class and that is always a goal of any healthcare provider. Also, the Air Force is a family and we support our pregnant women when their spouses are deployed.”
According to Hannigan, the early feedback from the class has been extremely positive with participants specifically enjoying the belly casting portion of the class, exercise and nutrition class, prenatal yoga and the chance to meet and build friendships with the other expectant parents.
The prenatal education classes are not just for first-time moms either, as even seasoned parents are encouraged to participate.
“How we are recruiting for the classes is through the new obstetrics group class with the nurses,” said Hannigan. “Anytime someone has a positive pregnancy test they are set up for the OB group class to build their OB chart and go over some initial information before they see a provider for their first appointment. At that class they pass out a form to those who might be interested in taking part in the group prenatal class.”
All of the activities in the class are completely free. For more information about group prenatal classes, call the Women’s Health Clinic at 702-653-2300.