PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- The Women's Health Clinic at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth sponsored a Pregnancy Fair June 9 that offered information on a variety of pregnancy-related topics, including nutrition, exercise, fetal development, birthing positions and lactation.
Representatives from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) and Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) were also there, speaking about the resources available through their organizations.
The fair drew about 100 patients and visitors who stopped at the tables for information in the form of handouts, demonstrations, and poster boards. Wendy Valentine of the Women's Health Clinic organized the fair because of the abundance of pregnant women who receive care at NMCP.
"Our goal is for people to get educated on topics that might not get talked about at every visit," Valentine said. "I am excited with the turnout."
At the perinatal education table, Norma Dawn Knight-Pongratz offered information on birthing positions and equipment such as birthing balls.
"I love talking to and interacting with patients, getting them to think about their birth process," Knight-Pongratz said. "As a perinatal educator, I want to show parents there are different ways to deliver their baby, and they can do it happily and healthily and have a great experience."
Patients were encouraged to attend a childbirth preparation class and take a tour of Labor and Delivery.
"The class is all inclusive - we talk about what happens during labor - the physiological changes, ways to change positions, natural methods to cope, IV medications, C-sections, and we do a tour so they know where they are going to deliver and where to check in," she said. "The class is a four-hour session which we offer on Thursdays and Saturdays. We also offer a Labor and Delivery tour so patients know the hospital's policies and procedures and can see the maternal-child spaces."
At the Clinical Nutrition Department table, dietetic interns gave information for pregnant and post-partum women, and talked about the classes offered by the Clinical Nutrition Department for patients with gestational diabetes or who are overweight.
"Our information covers the basics of healthy eating during pregnancy, common concerns such as nausea and constipation and how to deal with that, some information on diet myths, as well as tips for breastfeeding moms or those who are thinking about breastfeeding," said Jennifer Mayer, dietetic intern.
Patients also received information about the Budgeting for Baby class and visiting nurse program offered by NMCRS.
"In the class, we cover a wide range of financial topics relating to babies that can be anything from purchasing a new vehicle to basic budgeting," said Thorunn Bitterman, director of the NMCRS Portsmouth office. "The theme of the class is to be prepared for the cost of adding another family member. We also talk about other things to prepare for, such as wills, guardianships, family care plans, and DEERS. Each participant gets a basket full of baby items for attending the class."
Bitterman explained that clients can also ask for one of three visiting nurses in the area to schedule a home visit after their baby is born.
"Their primary role is educational," she said. "They weigh the baby, they answer any questions and address concerns. They can make other referrals if needed. The visit timeframe is pretty broad, from birth and even older babies and toddlers if there are developmental concerns."
FFSC also offers home visits through the New Parent Support Home Visit program. This is a voluntary home visitation/parent education program is available whether a child is their parents' first or fifth, and visits can be scheduled prior to a child's birth until age four.
FFSC also offers play groups and a Journey through Pregnancy class. Class listings and information about the programs can be found on the FFSC website or at any locations.
Interior Communication Electrician 3rd Class Madai Cooper of the Information Management Department at NMCP is pregnant with her second child and planned for weeks to attend the fair.
"This fair is great because parents need to learn about this," Cooper said. "People may not be informed about all of this, so we can learn a lot about different aspects of being pregnant. I got information about breastfeeding, exercise, and child safety."
Lt. Josh Womack, who is stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, came to NMCP with his wife Karen specifically for the fair after seeing it advertised during the Labor and Delivery tour.
"I love the support services that the Navy provides, so it's important for me to become more informed about the services and be here with her to understand the options that we have," Womack said. "A lot of them we are going to follow up on."
"This is very informative and is a lot of good information," Karen said. "I didn't know about the prenatal exercise classes that are offered. I'm excited about doing the classes after I have my baby."
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