Earlier this year, the Family Life Center of Illinois added a fun new component to its prenatal program: baby shower-style workshops that educate and celebrate clients through each trimester of pregnancy.
Kathy Potter, R.N., who serves as the center’s nurse manager and sonographer, oversees the prenatal program and its new set of workshops, an idea which she implemented after learning about a similar program in another state. The sessions consist of three group classes in which participants watch videos that teach them about pregnancy, and in the spirit of a festive baby shower, include games, snacks, and prizes. The women can even bring a guest.
As exciting as the program sounds, Potter wasn’t always sure it was the way to go.
“As I was preparing for our first educational prenatal baby shower, I wondered if this was a needed service—others in the community offer prenatal instruction,” she said. “But God interrupted my thoughts with, ‘Yes, but the clients don’t have anyone to celebrate with them.’ That confirmed for me that we needed to offer the program.”
The first session, called “Understanding Pregnancy,” is geared toward women who are in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. The second class, which is for women between 14 and 27 weeks, focuses on labor and delivery. The third class, which women take during their third trimester, concentrates on newborn care. Lasting about 1.5 hours, each session complements the one-on-one prenatal education sessions provided by the center and features an InJoy Health Education DVD.
The final gathering features a decorated cake in celebration of the women completing the program. The ladies also receive either a layette or a car seat, and can earn a basket filled with items, which include diapers, clothing, and homemade blankets.
“Everyone seems to have fun,” Potter said. “Celebrate with them—yes, that is what we do! We celebrate the ‘gift of life’ with them. I love sharing the scientifically-proven fact that a ‘spark of light’ occurs at conception.”
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She refers participants to a local hospital for additional information about labor and delivery and to a local health department for assistance in correct installation of the infant car seat.
Ten women have completed the program since it started in March, and Potter has seen a positive change.
“Women weren’t returning for the one-on-one sessions as often as we’d hoped. Providing these extra classes and making them fun, as well as educational, has helped,” she said.
There’s an extra benefit, too, for the clients and for the center.
“Some women from the group class are becoming interested in returning for five shorter one-on-one sessions,” said Potter.
The addition of this program is one more way Family Life Center can positively impact Illinois women facing unplanned pregnancies. Located in Effingham in the middle part of the state, the center began offering ultrasound services about a decade ago.
Family Life Center in Effingham, Illinois | Photo Courtesy: Kathy Potter
“Ultrasound is a great service to offer. I must admit, it seemed overwhelming to me at first. But, thankfully, I have seen women change their minds about abortion and choose life.”
Potter began her pregnancy center career 15 years ago, serving at a different life-affirming organization. She started at Family Life Center as a volunteer advocate. Now, as nurse manager, she seeks ways to reach more women vulnerable to abortion in a state in which nearly 40,000 abortions took place last year.
“Our goal is to share the love of God with abortion-vulnerable women and men in fun ways, if we can,” she said.