2/23/18

Upcoming reunion centers area parents of newborns

Months of planning and a strong support system comforted new mom Erica Sutton when her son, Clay, arrived three weeks early.

“It’s not like you see in the movies – no drugs, familiar faces, and a smooth labor. My OB was not on call but Sarah (Procko) was – it was magical,” Sutton said.

Procko is one of the midwives who leads CenteringPregnancy at Carle.

“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,” Procko said.

Clay avoided a stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Trained staff attended to his needs and quickly started skin-to-skin contact with Mom to help his breathing. Clay required surgery at just 17 days old, leaving his parents frightened. Numerous spots on his skin resembling strawberry-sized birthmarks cause more concern, but today medication controls this condition, hemangiomas. He’ll soon gurgle and coo with other babies born to Sutton’s Centering friends when moms and dads reunite at the first Centering reunion this week.

Eight-week-old George Winters-Castle is one of the babies they will meet. Like Sutton, George’s mom Kathleen hoped for a drug-free vaginal delivery, but that wasn’t in the cards.

“My labor went exactly opposite of what I had planned,” Winters said. Winters suffered from life-threatening pre-eclampsia.

Centering prepared her for what was to come.

“I was familiar with the protocols and it made things less scary. We even knew the room we’d be in thanks to a tour,” she said.

Winters learned about the warning signs of pre-eclampsia from another mom in her Centering group. She paid attention to her body, recognized the signs early and advocated for her health.

“I knew I had a normal reading, but it wasn’t normal for me. The nursing staff listened and responded,” Winters said.

And as luck would have it, Ellen Solis, the first midwife they met, was on call and ready to help Winters through her delivery.

Rave reviews from friends about the midwives program prompted Winters’ decision to look into Centering.

“The program was interesting as first-time parents. It was a great way to get to know the providers better. It didn’t feel like a doctor’s appointment. It was so natural – like friends learning and sharing about a common stressful situation,” she said.

Following four days in the NICU, Winters welcomed home a strong George, who has held his head up since birth.

Next up for Winters, tackling tongue tie, a common breastfeeding challenge her group explored with a visiting lactation consultant.

Weeks into treatment for this, George is relearning how to breastfeed and to strengthen his tongue muscles with the help of the breastfeeding clinic at Urbana on Windsor.

This additional level of support is available through Centering is open to anyone receiving prenatal care at Carle at no additional cost. To learn more, please talk with your healthcare provider. Winters is glad she did.

“Our hearts would be broken if we have another child in a region that doesn’t offer Centering,” she said.

Special note: Winters-Castle family photos provided by Sarah Scully Photography