Nationally recognized care now available downstate benefits parents, babies

Focusing on the whole family appealed to Ariel Short, first-time mom from Mattoon, when she selected CenteringPregnancy™ for her prenatal care. Although she has a strong network of friends and family, the program intrigued her, and it involves her husband.

In Centering, pregnant woman with similar due dates join together with their healthcare provider. They receive all the components of standard prenatal care, with an added bonus of interactive learning and community building. This stand-alone approach to prenatal care includes elements of traditional visits like routine exam and ultrasounds and benefits first-time parents and experienced ones.

Kimberly and Kyle Kloepper, from Champaign, parents of Eleanor, 5, and Peter, 2, said curiosity drew them to join Centering. Helping others comes naturally to the duo, so they felt they could offer advice to others and learn something, too.

“Pregnant moms are pretty open, talking about what their body is doing. But it’s also scary and hearing that what you’re experiencing is normal is calming,” Kloepper said.

Even though she’s considered a “pro,” expecting her third child, Kloepper said Centering’s expanded appointments give her important reminders and information.

Short and husband Dylan will get to know all of the midwives before they welcome their baby girl and develop stronger connections. Midwives deliver information in manageable doses.

During a recent session, partners learned more about pregnancy pains, including common discomforts like constipation, shortness of breath and nipple pain.

“It made the men a little uncomfortable, just like women can sometimes be during pregnancy,” Short said.

A little humor to lighten the mood helps tackle tough topics. Both women appreciate the tips—exercising and stretching, soothing tired muscles with a neck wrap, decorating the nursery and choosing a name.

Kloepper pointedly shares that even with all the prep work, she still asked the nurse, “What do I do with her?” when her first child arrived.

Short agrees.

“I’m excited to meet my baby and share this with my husband but anxious about actually giving birth and what comes next.”

She appreciates the honesty of others like Kloepper.

Carle midwife Sarah Procko offers a safe space for soon-to-be parents to ask questions and to become experts in their own care.

When the March of Dimes awarded Carle a start-up grant, Centering was introduced in June. Additional groups continue to form. Centering is open to anyone receiving prenatal care at Carle at no additional cost. To learn more, please talk with your healthcare provider.

Group prenatal care began in the 1990s. Centering at Carle is the first in Illinois outside of Chicago. Today, Centering happens in more than 450 sites in 45 states.

Centering is an addition to Carle’s commitment to serving women and families and allows parents additional choices for prenatal care. Groups are filling fast considering that Centering can improve upon:

  • Preterm delivery and low birth weight
  • Breastfeeding rates
  • Postpartum depression
  • Fully-developed support systems