Reducing Racial Disparities
addressing Extreme Prematurity
Eliminating Sleep-Related Deaths
I had my first child when I was 14. I was young and it was very, very hard. I was in the eighth grade, and administrators didn’t really want me to be seen, so they kept me in the office, doing work there. I managed to make it through, but it was really hard.
Everything started when I lost my father in fifth grade. After he passed away, I struggled so hard. I was running away from home, giving my mom all types of trouble. I didn’t know anything about sexuality. I was just searching for something to fill that void.
I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was going on with my body. I gave birth on April 13, but I didn’t have my first doctor’s appointment until that February. My life was filled with stares, snickering and whispering. Luckily, my mother was a good support system after it all happened and she helped me through the hardest parts.
"I learned so much in those sessions — everything from how to care for my body during pregnancy to how to alleviate and manage my stress."
Five years later, when I was pregnant with my second child, I came to one of my prenatal appointments and I saw a flyer for CenteringPregnancy. One of the staff members recommended it to me, saying it would be a great experience. At first, I was hesitant because I wasn’t a people person. Being a young mother, I felt ridiculed a lot of the time. I was dealing with depression and struggling to find an outlet for my stress. I didn’t have a lot of people in my life to turn to. The idea of being with other women, talking about pregnancy and childbirth, was foreign to me.
But I quickly learned that the women in the group were there to support me. I found out that these women were going through the same things I’ve been through. I used Centering as an outlet. I learned so much in those sessions — everything from how to care for my body during pregnancy to how to alleviate and manage my stress. Not only did I have the support, the staff guided me to resources. There were days when I didn’t know where I was going to get things for my child. But, because they directed me to places that could help, it took some of that stress and worry away.
The differences between my first and second births were amazing. After attending Centering with my second, I knew how to handle my labor better. I danced in labor with him. I knew how to manage the contractions with breathing. It was totally different from my first labor. This time, I was better prepared on what to expect. I had an epidural with my first child, but I went natural with my second.
Now that I’m a Centering facilitator, I enjoy every moment — because I’ve been there. I’ve sat in those same seats. I can relate to what they’re going through. I recruit for the program as well. When I hear someone might be interested, I’ll go have a conversation with them to answer any questions they may have. When expectant moms hear about Centering, they think it’s just going to be group discussions, but it’s real prenatal care. You actually get more time with your provider than you would in the traditional setting. The best part is that you’re dealing with women who have something in common.
So many of the women who’ve come through my sessions tell me they have friends who can’t relate. But, in Centering, the other women understand you — and are walking right alongside you.
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