Highland works to educate expecting mothers
Because Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the United States, the women services department at Highland Community Hospital is working in many different ways with the community to educate them on healthy pregnancies.
“Education is one of our targets right now because there is a definite need in the community,” said Director of Obstetrics and Women’s Services Janelle Imhoff.
One part of their education program includes a birthing class offered every other Thursday at 7 p.m.
Debbie Duncan, RN, who teaches the class, said the first two classes cover basic childbirth education, which includes information on initial steps of childbirth and what a pregnant woman may experience.
Women looking to have a natural childbirth can take further classes with Duncan to learn about breathing techniques and how their experience will be different.
Duncan said she has been teaching the class for about two years and encourages women, whether they are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, to take the classes.
“Without information you don’t know how to make an informed decision,” Duncan said.
For woman planning to get pregnant, she said being educated is just as important before becoming pregnant. For mothers who have been pregnant before the classes can still be an important tool.
“From year to year we learn a little bit more about fetal development, about mom’s body and how it’s affects fetal development,” Duncan said.
She recommends that expectant mothers start talking to their doctors and taking birthing classes starting around 24-26 weeks so that they can have time to ask questions and make decisions about their birth plan.
“There is no right or wrong, it’s just how you want your labor, your delivery and your post partum care to go,” Duncan said.
Highland Community Hospital is also reaching out to a younger generation through the Allied Health classes at the local high schools.
She emphasizes to students that the things they do today can affect their health tomorrow.
“Some of the STDs that are out there now are so severe that they can affect your ability to become pregnant and your baby when you do decide to have a baby,” Duncan said.
Through the job shadowing programs at the Picayune Career and Technology Center and Pearl River Central Vocational Education program, the students are also able to learn about women’s health and its importance.
Imhoff said the hospital is continuing to expand their education programs and is working with the March of Dimes and other state and national organizations to promote community education.
Anyone interested in taking the class can call 601-358-9785 or Duncan at 228-342-8559.
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