Rose came into True Care Women's Resource Center in Casper, Wyoming, anxious about possibly being pregnant. Major health issues made her think 'abortion.'
Her pregnancy test was positive, so the True Care nurse provided Rose with an ultrasound. The 25-year-old was visibly upset when the image of an eight-week-old appeared on the screen. Rose had no family nearby, and her boyfriend said he would support her should she abort.
Rose felt torn about her decision.
The True Care nurse talked with Rose about her medical issues, and, with her permission, contacted the Center's Medical Director, who agreed to see Rose. The nurse also scheduled the young woman for a second ultrasound. She returned to True Care the next week, appearing more relaxed.
Rose spoke highly of the doctor she had seen and said she felt all of her questions were answered. She said she had decided to parent and her boyfriend was supportive of that decision. She signed up for the Center's Baby & Me program, a prenatal program that educates women about pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
Tweet This: Ultrasound, physician consultation, and parenting classes help empower mom @wyoauthor1
Rose has attended her first few classes and, if she completes all ten sessions, she will earn an incentive item: her choice of a crib, a travel system, or a $200 gift card.
Rose is one of nearly 30 women currently taking part in True Care's Baby & Me program, which began about 10 years ago.
“When the program first started, it was open to all pregnant women in the community, but we quickly ran out of room for our own patients,” explained Terry Winship, True Care's CEO.
Baby & Me is for first-time moms; True Care also has a program called Baby & Me Too for women who (1) haven't had a baby in a long time or (2) have young children already and find themselves pregnant again and considering abortion because they feel they can't handle another child so soon.
Last year about 110 patients participated in Baby & Me, said Program Coordinator Rebecca Tharp.
“That was the biggest year since 2008,” she stated. “We are giving them the skills and knowledge-base needed to be the best parent they can be.
“Most say they don't have a good support system – the program provides that,” she added.
True Care serves a community of about 60,000 people, and some of the women come from other nearby towns. One woman drove 125 miles one-way to participate in Baby & Me last year.
South of Casper about 350 miles is the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado, population about 430,000. Three sites of the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center are found in that community, and through those branches sprouts Lifesteps, an Earn While You Learn prenatal and parenting program. Like True Care's Baby & Me, women learn about healthy pregnancy and fetal development. Unlike the Casper program, Lifesteps participants can continue the program until the child is 2 years old.
“It's a great tool, a great mentorship program,” said Lifesteps Director Cindy Hand. “We want clients to know we're going to walk this journey with them, to provide the help and support they need.”
Participants earn "Baby Bucks" for attending the educational sessions and spend those at the centers' Baby Boutiques. Clients also earn “dollars” if they bring someone with them to the session, if they do their session-based homework, and if they complete their in-class worksheets.
Tweet This: "We want clients to know we're going to walk this journey with them." @wyoauthor1
Most of the sessions are one-on-one with a coach, although a few are group classes, Cindy said.
Lifesteps began 11 years ago. When Cindy became the director four years later, about 90 women were being served; currently about 240 participants between the three centers take part in the program, she said.
Something else that has mushroomed is the outreach to dads. Fatherhood coaches work with about 50 or 60 men each month, Cindy said.
“We're meeting the needs of the young men who come through our door – it's so exciting and rewarding to see that,” she stated.
Rebecca would like to witness such a program bloom in Casper. Although there is no specific outreach to new dads like in Colorado Springs, “Fathers are welcome to attend Baby & Me sessions with the ladies,” Rebecca said.
In fact, the program's name, Baby & Me, took root to encourage more new fathers to participate; originally the program was called Mommy & Me.
“We changed the name of the program three or four years ago in order to help the men who accompany the moms feel more comfortable,” Terry explained.
This is part 1 in a 3-part series featuring the diverse parenting programs offered at pregnancy help organizations. Next Thursday, learn how these and other centers' parenting programs are impacting patient lives.