Life Story Prenatal Care
By: Meredith Pace, RN, BSN, MA
Christ Community Health Services
While Shelby County may have one of the highest infant mortality rates and preterm delivery rates in the nation, behind every statistic is a unique story.
At Christ Community Health Services we value each of the stories behind the statistics and desire to provide excellent prenatal care to women as they live bravely as the main character in their lives. This is why we currently use the Life Story Prenatal Curriculum, a group prenatal visit model with a Christian perspective.
Through Life Story, pregnant women come together for group prenatal care visits and form a supportive community in this thrilling new chapter of their lives—motherhood. Women like Latasha* and Michelle, who became friends early on in their Life Story group and walked together through the fears related to first time pregnancy. Women like Maya, who looked to her Life Story group as a place for encouragement and belonging as she experienced pregnancy without the help of a partner, or Anna, who was inspired to pursue her nursing degree after acknowledging her hopes in Life Story.
Life Story group prenatal visits consist of 8-12 women with similar due dates. There are 10 total visits during the course of the pregnancy, starting in the 2nd trimester. Groups are led by consistent co-facilitators, at least one of whom is a licensed prenatal provider, and a respectful, open environment is cultivated to make sure every one’s voice is heard.
Life Story operates from the belief that our individual physical health is affected by the choices we make, which are influenced by what we think about ourselves and how we relate to God. This prenatal model seeks to provide care for women’s physical health as well as mental, emotional and spiritual health. We tend to mental and emotional health as we help women see the unique story of their lives and create a safe space for them to share their story. Personal assessments completed by the women each week specifically address these elements of health and help them evaluate the roles they fill. We introduce pregnant moms to the new story beginning with their expected child and highlight that all of our life stories are a subplot of God’s larger story of love for His children.
Through this understanding of God’s love we provide spiritual care as we process the significance of God’s story, His saving work for all, and the threads of His work in each of our stories/lives. As we discuss our life stories, we point out the ability for all people to change their life story—to work towards their hopes through choices and a relationship with God. Each session also includes a story about a character in the Bible with struggles and hopes to which we all relate. The stories are told in a refreshing, simple way that is both entertaining and engaging.
The actual medical assessments are conducted one-on-one with each patient behind a privacy screen at the beginning of the session while the other mothers eat snacks, visit, and begin the activities. Health and medical information is shared through games and other participatory activities after the individual assessments are completed. For example, we talk about the physical changes experienced by a mom in pregnancy through an altered version of the game “Pictionary”. The women review the signs and symptoms of preterm labor with interactive models. And interesting visual aids are utilized when discussing healthy eating habits. Life Story also connects new moms with resources and community programs designed for their specific needs.
Behind every health statistic in Shelby County is an important story and a valuable life. Through the Life Story Prenatal Care Program, Christ Community Health Services is honoring the stories of the strong, wise, and gifted women throughout the city. We consider it a privilege to journey with them into the new chapter of motherhood and it’s through honoring these individual stories we hope to change the statistics.
*All patient names changed to protect privacy.
Christ Community Health Services is currently enrolling new mothers for the Life Story Prenatal Care program in multiple locations.
Please contact Meredith Pace, Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (901) 260-8511 if you would like more information.