FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- It was NOT what patients were expecting during their visit to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital April 25. Best-selling author of pregnancy and parenting "What to Expect" book series, Heidi Murkoff visited new and expecting mothers at the hospital in conjunction with her USO Special Delivery Baby Shower on Fort Campbell.

"We are celebrating military moms-to-be and military moms who are having their babies and who may be far from their family and friends and network of support. So this is our way of celebrating them and appreciating them," said Murkoff. The USO Special Delivery Baby Shower tour is in its sixth year and gives new military moms and moms-to-be an afternoon of traditional baby shower games, camaraderie, gifts and a question and answer period with Murkoff. Nearly 10,000 military spouses and active-duty women have participated in this free event at military installations worldwide since it began in 2013.

Murkoff said that serving in the military or being a military spouse can mean moving far away from the traditional support network of family and friends a woman may normally have when she is pregnant or has a baby.

"This is just one way of helping them, supporting them and also showing our appreciation for the sacrifices they make," said Murkoff.

At the hospital, Murkoff first visited with active-duty women attending a military welcome session at the Women's Health Clinic. The session provides active-duty women with newly confirmed pregnancies information about what to expect when they are pregnant on active-duty. The session facilitator goes over Army regulations related to pregnancy and post-partum, like physical training profiles, working conditions and wellness information. Murkoff joined the group as they were learning about the CenteringPregnancy prenatal program offered at the hospital and had much praise for the program. CenteringPregnancy gives women more support during their pregnancy than traditional prenatal programs by including group networking and education sessions with other moms-to-be.

"I love the centering program. They say pregnancy loves company and just knowing that you're not alone and that you're not the only one experiencing all these crazy physical and emotional symptoms and knowing you have someone else to turn to who knows exactly what you're going through at exactly the same time is incredibly important," said Murkoff. "Also, it gives moms and dads a chance to ask questions in an environment that feels safer. Often times when you're alone with your doctor or other health care professionals you feel a little intimidated by the situation but when you're all together in a group, as you are in CenteringPregnancy, you're able to really sort of share experiences, share insights and ask those questions that are really nagging you," she added.
After answering some questions and talking with the Soldiers, Murkoff provided each expectant mom a signed copy of her book, "What to Expect When You're Expecting".

"I'm glad we got a copy of the book. Just looking at the back of the book -- some of the questions on there are some of the questions I've already had. I'm looking forward to reading the answers," said Spc. Savannah Tuepker, a participant in the military welcome class.

Next Murkoff headed to the hospital's Mother Baby Unit, where mothers and their newborn infants stay after labor, delivery and recovery. There Murkoff met individually with families in their hospital rooms and gave them signed copies of her book, "What to Expect the First Year".

One mother, who was still labor on the Labor, Delivery and Recovery Unit heard about Murkoff's visit and asked if the author could visit her in her labor suite. Since visitors are allowed while labor is progressing, the nursing staff escorted Murkoff in to visit the patient.

"This is so exciting," said Althea Sellers, as Murkoff and Seller's husband gathered around the hospital bed for a photo. "It's the last thing you'd expect when you're expecting."

Blanchfield's Women's Health Department is made up of three sections that provide care for pregnancy and women's health.

Obstetrics and Gynecology section provides patient education and prenatal care for expectant mothers and other women's health services.
The Labor, Delivery and Recovery Unit features seven labor rooms and two labor and delivery operating rooms and a team of obstetrical and gynecological specialty physicians, certified nurse midwives, and nurses and medical professionals to help ensure a safe delivery. The team helps deliver about five babies each day.

About two hours after giving birth, mother and baby are transferred to the Mother-Baby Unit to recuperate in one of 20 private suites. There, hospital staff will monitor mother and baby's recovery until they are medically cleared for discharge.

Beneficiaries can learn more about the hospital's Women's Health services at the upcoming Baby Expo, May 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Campbell's Family Readiness Center.