Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
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Centering Pregnancy: a new pregnancy program for Waimea
By North Hawaii Community Hospital staff

Should anyone doubt the importance of breathing in childbirth, consider the situation of Nur Suryani Taibi, a member of the Malaysian 2012 Olympic team.

Taibi is her nation’s first woman to compete in her sport – air riflery – in any Olympic Games. She also has another distinction: at eight months pregnant, Taibi is, in the words of TIME magazine, “believed to be the most heavily pregnant athlete in the history of the Games.”

Perhaps it is entirely fitting that Taibi, 29, has been adopted by major media outlets in the U.S. as a symbol of the 2012 London Games, which are heralded as the “Year of the Woman.”

Carrying a child due in early September barely affected Taibi during competition. Even though she is a world-class target shooter (ranked 47 th in the world) in 10-meter air riflery, Taibi was not expected to finish in the medals in London. But she did finish 34 th overall even though she did not advance to the finals.

More importantly, Taibi showed everyone something else – pregnancy does not need to stop the world from turning for the mother-to-be.

How? In a sport that requires ultimate control of one’s breathing – necessary to quiet oneself when aiming at targets the size of a BB more than 30 feet distant – Taibi used a common strategy when her baby would unexpectedly kick during competition. This happened four or five times during crucial moments, just before pulling the trigger.

“Baby is quite fine,” Taibi told The New York Times in a July 28 article. “I told her to behave herself. When she kicked I tried to breathe in, breathe out and make myself calm.”

There was another aspect to Taibi’s determination. “I have been called selfish and greedy for not giving up my place in the Games,” she told a Malaysian blogger on the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. “But I have learnt to ignore those comments and stay focused on the task at hand.

“I qualified on merit and have every right to be here despite being pregnant. I aim to prove that pregnant women can be just as competitive as anybody else,” she said.

Perhaps more importantly for Taibi is her future with daughter: “For me, it’s a matter of living the dream and the Olympic spirit of competing. If I abandoned it now, I may never have the opportunity again.

“What do I tell my daughter then? That I gave up? That I’m a quitter?”

Olympic-caliber determination can be found in almost every woman who is pregnant.

But too often, that determination does not help first-time mothers. Especially if they’ve missed important pre-natal education and contact with other pregnant women with similar questions and concerns.

To help North Hawaii mothers-to-be, North Hawaii Community Hospital and the Waimea Women’s Center will begin offering in September a program new to the Big Island, the group approach of Centering Pregnancy. The program is funded by a $15,000 training grant from the Perinatal Consortium, according to Robin Ramsay, Certified Nurse-Midwife, and one of the program’s group facilitators.

The Waimea Women’s Center already offers high quality pre-natal care, ob-gyn services and midwifery services.

“But Centering Pregnancy is a little bit different,” Ramsay said. The 10 group sessions, each two hours in length with healthy pupus and breaks, will include women with due dates within two weeks of each other, a necessary coincidence of commonality.

“In a two-hour group situation, with certified leaders to guide the discussions, pregnant women will find support and understanding that they just might not have time to get to in a 10 or 15 minute doctor visit – no matter how accomplished and compassionate the provider and her staff may be.”

One of the reasons is time, or the lack of it, Ramsay said.

“Often when you get to the end of a visit late in a woman’s prenancy, time runs out just when deeper conversations begin,” she said.

Not all women will need the services of a Centering Pregnancy program. But the participation of women who’ve already given birth helps “normalize” the pending birth and lessens or removes much of the apprehension that first-time moms-to-be often experience, Ramsay said.

Each of the 10 meetings will focusing on two or three topics: nutrition, parenting, labor and more.

Each woman also will take her own weight blood pressures, and have access to her own chart to promote self care. Group meetings have been shown to have other benefits as well, Ramsay said.

“Research has shown that babies from centering groups tend to have healthier [birth] weights, fewer are born pre-term and women breast-feed longer,” she said.

Oh, and one other benefit: “Dads are always welcome,” she said. “Dads often participate [in the group meetings] just as much as the women.”

Centering Pregnancy group meetings will take place at Tutu’s House in Waimea. Insurance coverage is the same as standard ob-gyn visits. For more information, call the Waimea Women’s Center, 885-9606.