Staying Healthy While Expecting

Published 10:25 am Friday, November 10, 2023

Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center is hosting a prenatal health class at 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 16. The class will primarily focus on health before becoming pregnant, although those at any stage of pregnancy are welcome.

This will be the first class of its kind at the Wellness Center, although Auburn University puts them on once a semester. 

The center is a collaboration between Auburn University, the City of LaFayette, and Chambers County, as a part of the University’s rural health initiative. Inside, patients can take advantage of the OnMed® care station, a private booth where they can be virtually connected with a licensed clinician. In-person care is also provided by Auburn’s faculty and students.

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Linda Gibson-Young, a professor and outreach coordinator with Auburn University College of Nursing, said the idea for the class came about during a previous event at the center. The “Canvas Talk in Recognition of Black Maternal Health Week,” last April had an audience of around 20 people. After the event, Gibson-Young said participants were interested in continuing these conversations about maternal health.

Chambers County has only one practicing OB/GYN. There are more in Opelika and Auburn, AL, around 20 minutes away. Madison Weeks, an Auburn University honors nursing student, hopes this will help women stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy and improve maternal health outcomes in Chambers County. 

Doors for the class open at 7 p.m. for anyone interested in attending. Resources will be available at the start of the evening, followed by the 30-to-45-minute prenatal health class. Research done by nursing students at Auburn will also be presented in the class. Some of the research found:

– In Alabama, maternal health outcomes rank 43rd nationally and infant mortality rates rank 47th nationally. 

– Poor maternal health outcomes and infant mortality disproportionately impact rural areas.

-Early and adequate prenatal care allows for early detection and treatment of pregnancy complications.

-Women in Alabama with two or more chronic health conditions (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etc.) are twice as likely to have a preterm delivery.

-Management of chronic health conditions in women of childbearing age is key to improving maternal health outcomes.

-53% of maternal deaths in Alabama in 2016-2017 occurred between one week postpartum and one year postpartum.

-Postpartum follow-up with a healthcare provider allows for early detection and intervention for postpartum complications such as mental health crises and cardiac-related complications.

Claire Thompson, an Assistant Clinical Professor at Auburn University and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, serves on the Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

“Addressing health challenges such as obesity and hypertension prior to pregnancy is key to ensuring healthy moms and healthy babies,” said Thompson 

Through the prenatal classes, Auburn University is hoping to improve these numbers in Chambers County. They hope to offer the class at least yearly at the center. 

Thompson said, “We need to make sure women of childbearing age are healthy and have their chronic health conditions under good control before pregnancy to ensure the health of the mothers and the babies.”