FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Laughter could be heard coming from the Bassett Army Community Hospital chapel as a group of four women, their husbands, infants and two pregnancy support staff met for the first Bassett ACH Centering Pregnancy reunion in January.
The reunion allowed the group, who had been together since their 16-week appointment, to meet one more time to share their birth story, discuss life with a newborn, exchange lessons learned, and to meet the newest additions; three boys and a girl.
Centering Pregnancy, a program introduced at Bassett ACH in 2021, brings together a small group of eight to 10 women for their prenatal care. The women meet monthly for a two-hour group appointment that then allows time for each of them to meet individually with the provider.
“These groups are an alternative to the traditional form of prenatal care, which offers 20 minute one-one-one appointments,” said Lt. Col. Heidi Radmer, Bassett ACH midwifery chief.”
This alternative is one the participants quickly began to value.
“With appointments being longer, we are able to receive more information about pregnancy, what’s normal and what’s not, and a chance to become more comfortable with our prenatal care,” said Courtney Ross, wife of Staff Sgt. Trenton Ross, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron.
During the monthly appointments, Radmer brings in guest speakers who are subject matter experts in different aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. These guest speakers cover topics such as a healthy diet during pregnancy, pain management options during labor, postpartum depression and common infant health concerns.
Each group appointment also provided time for participants to bond as they were going through the stages of pregnancy together, ask questions and share any issues they were experiencing.
Staff Sgt. Herald Ludwig, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron, attended appointments with his wife, Beauleen Soumwei, and found the group setting to be helpful.
“We learned a lot from the group,” said Ludwig. “Sometimes we would forget to ask a question but someone else would ask and there were some things we never even thought to ask but someone else did so we were able to learn through their experiences too.”
While the majority of the two-hour monthly appointment took place in a group setting, there was also time for each of the participants to meet privately with Dr. Radmer.
“We always try to individualize the one-on-one time so I can speak to their individual experience,” said Radmer. “We call it ‘Tummy Time’ when we meet individually behind a screen and there is plenty of background noise to ensure privacy. Then, if there is something that requires more of a sensitive exam we can go down to the clinic and do that in a room after the group appointment.”
“I was completely okay with the screen going up for my individual time,” said Ross. “She [Dr Radmer] was very discreet during our one-on-one time, checking the heartbeat and answering questions and I never felt rushed.”
In addition to offering both a group setting and individualized care, Centering offers participants continuity of care as they meet with Radmer each month throughout the course of their pregnancy.
Radmer believes women choose centering for their prenatal care in order to gain more information and knowledge regarding their pregnancy and birth, but that it offers them so much more.
“Centering offers them an opportunity to build relationships with other soon-to-be moms and to have continuity of care during their pregnancy,” said Radmer. “It offers more for their prenatal experience than just standard, routine care.”
For beneficiaries interested in participating in Centering Pregnancy, speak with a nurse or provider from the Women’s Health Clinic or call 907-361-4000, option 4, option 1.