Prenatal education now available for Las Animas County’s Expectant Mothers

One of the missions of the Mt. Carmel Health & Wellness Center is to identify needed resources that are unavailable to area residents and to seek ways to offer them. With the successful awarding of a March of Dimes Foundation grant, Mt. Carmel announced that they will soon be offering the “Becoming a Mom” Program for expectant mothers in Las Animas County. Dr. Leo Bonfadini, Mt. Carmel Wellness Program Director, said, “Offering perinatal resources to our community will create a supportive environment that promotes healthy behaviors, and will help to overcome barriers to care. Our hope is to offer information that will help pregnant women learn about having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.” A trained facilitator will lead the class with the primary goal of reducing the number of preterm births, (before 39 completed weeks of gestation.)

One of the harsh realities faced by Las Animas County moms-to-be is that Mt. San Rafael Hospital does not offer obstetrics, except in an emergency. Prior to Dr. Andrea Doeden joining the Mt. San Rafael Hospital medical team in the summer of 2011, general practitioners in Las Animas County offered only basic OB/GYN to patients, then referred them to specialists in Raton or Pueblo. Although Dr. Doeden will see obstetrical patients in their early first trimester, during the remainder of their pregnancy, obstetric patients travel north or south to deliver their little bundles of joy.

The March of Dimes designed Becoming a Mom program is a nine-week, 2-hour group session and will be offered two times throughout the year. The weekly sessions include basic information to help have a healthy pregnancy including the promotion of health-related behaviors; the importance of early and regular prenatal care and the skills needed to navigate the health care system; healthy eating; dealing with stress during pregnancy; things to avoid during pregnancy such as avoiding situations that may put the pregnancy at risk; the Big Day-Labor and Birth; and postpartum care.

“It is apparent from statistics provided by the 2014 Kids Count Study that Las Animas County is in dire need of these services,” explained Bonfadini. “Births to single women in our county is 43.1% compared to 23.1% for the state. The teen birth rate (rate per 1000 female teens ages 15-19) is 52.3% as compared to 24.3% for the state. Only 65.4% of expectant mothers here receive or seek prenatal care and the “three risk factors” birth is 52.3% as compared to only 4.2 % in the entire state. In addition,” said Bonfadini, “50.4% of children 0-18 years old receive Medicaid in Las Animas County. Our expectation is that mothers who may not otherwise seek prenatal care due to distance or expense, will be greatly impacted by the Becoming a Mom program.”

Although the primary target for the program are those expectant mothers who are in their first trimester, ALL pregnant mothers are invited to attend no matter the stage they are in. A trained and certified babysitter will also be available for anyone needing childcare while they attend the class. There is no cost for the program and there will be incentives such as a Baby Bank where participants can spend Mommy Money they receive for completing the sessions.

Mt. Carmel is hopeful that all family centered agencies, health care providers, organizations as well as the residents of our community will be supportive of the program by making ongoing referrals. Together we can improve maternal and child health in our community!

Informational materials will be readily available in local pharmacies and healthcare facilities. If additional information is needed or to register, please contact Marty at Mt. Carmel Health, Wellness & Community Center, at 719-845-4894 or email .BAM flyer

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