Why every woman should have a doula.

Sarah is preparing to go to nursing school and some of her pre-requisites required that she write certain types of essays. As you can imagine, most of the essays were birth related if it fit the criteria for the essay. This last essay due is a persuasive essay. So of course Sarah had to write about why every woman should have a doula! A grade hasn’t been received for the essay yet, but we would love you, the reader, to give her a grade and leave some feedback!

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John H. Kennell, MD. This phrase is powerful and probably one of my favorites that is related to birth work. A doula is a professional childbirth support person, who has specialized training and often is certified, but is not a medical professional – unless the doula happens to hold separate medical licensing too. As a doula I provide you with all the information you could ever need, if I don’t know the answer to a question you have; I can find it.

Doulas support you emotionally throughout pregnancy, during labor and postpartum as well. We comfort you physically with massage, position suggestions, breathing techniques. Most of us have a doula bag full of tools to aid a mom during labor as well. As a doula our job is to help you know about all of your options and to be empowered in your decision making, to open the lines of communication between family and medical personnel and even translate medical jargon into easy to understand terms.

Dad and other family members are not excluded in the support when a doula is in the picture either, we provide emotional support for everyone in the room. A lot of women ask “Why should I hire a doula? I have my husband/mom/sister to support me. I didn’t have a doula for previous births so I don’t need one this time.” I like to say that having a doula for the first time is like having a Starbucks drink for the first time; you don’t know what you are missing until you have one!

Doulas improve overall birth outcomes. This happens in several ways. Studies show that having continuous labor support from a doula – not a family member, friend, or hospital employee – is when the best outcomes occur (Gruber, Kenneth J.). Up to a 31% decrease in use of Pitocin, a 28% decreased risk of a cesarean section, 12% more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth, 9% decrease in use of pain medication (which may not seem like a lot, but our biggest delivering hospital has a 93% epidural rate so it would make a small dent in that), a 14% decrease in the risk of baby being admitted to the NICU and a 34% decrease in the chance of mom being dissatisfied with her overall birth experience (“The Evidence On: Doulas.”). Considering that our nations cesarean rate is hovering around 32%, which is double to triple the recommended cesarean rate, any opportunity to help bring that number down is a great tool to utilize (Almendrala, Anna).

A study from Minnesota found that women who had a doula were 22% less likely to have a preterm birth. By reducing the cesarean rates, doulas can save private health insurances about $1.74 billion each year and state Medicaid about $659 million (Bess, Gabby). Even the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend the use of doulas during birth for their benefits and helping to shorten labor times (“Women’s Health Care Physicians”).

Even in the event of a cesarean, planned or unplanned, a doula is beneficial to have in the delivery room (Dekker, Rebecca). A doula is the constant, and the familiar even when the birth plan goes out the window. While physically there is not a lot that a doula can do in the operating room, the emotional support is most important. Taking pictures, making sure mom and dad are both understanding what is happening every step of the way, reassuring them both that everything is ok and their baby will be with them soon. Often baby goes to a warmer with a nurse immediately after birth and dad goes along too. This leaves mom alone, but with a doula by her side she’s never alone. In the OR I give constant reassurance and describe baby to mom if she cannot see baby, how beautiful baby is and how wonderful everyone is doing.

Being on the operating table can be such a lonely experience, and a doula changes that dramatically. We help facilitate skin to skin and breastfeeding in the OR as soon as possible to help mom have that golden hour of bonding and get breastfeeding off to the right start. I always have lots of tips for moms during the recovery of a cesarean so they have the easiest and quickest healing period possible. Having extra training through the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) has helped me to become a better doula for cesarean moms and to be better able to help moms avoid an unnecessary cesarean.

As a doula, I am always furthering my education to learn more about the physiological happens during pregnancy and birth. I’ve been studying pregnancy and birth since 2005 and I still learn something new at every birth I attend. Keeping up to date on new studies, ACOG recommendations, local hospital policies and even going backwards and reading old books to gain helpful information is crucial to me as a doula. Women deserve the very best care while they go through this life changing time, and I strive to give each woman just that. My very best.

Doulas also provide postpartum care to new moms. Having a doula postpartum is said to decrease the likelihood of a mom developing postpartum depression (Chee, Allie). We continue to take care of the mother after she has become a mother herself. While friends and family come over to see the new baby in the days and weeks after birth, a postpartum doula comes to make sure mom is taken care of so she can focus on taking care of her new baby. We do things like run errands, go get groceries for mom, clean up around the house, dishes, laundry, making sure mom has eaten and stays hydrated. By lifting this burden from new moms, we are helping her heal; physically and emotionally.

The birth of her child(ren) is a time that is going to be forever remembered by a mother. Our goal is to make sure that she has the best memory possible. That her birth(s) are stories that she wants to tell repeatedly, being filled with joy and empowerment when she thinks back on that time.  25-34% of women say their births were traumatic (B, Danielle). That number is too high. Our hopes are that through our work as doulas we can lower or eliminate the percent of women who experience birth trauma and replace it with a higher number of women who felt empowered, respected and in charge of their births.

 

References

Almendrala, Anna. “U.S. C-Section Rate Is Double What WHO Recommends.” The Huffington

Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 02 May 2017.

B, Danielle. “14 Women Share The Heartwrenching Details Of Their Birth Trauma.”BabyGaga. N.p., 25 Apr. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.

Bess, Gabby, Andalusia Knoll Soloff, Kimberly Lawson, Leila Ettachfini, Sophie Wilkinson,

Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, Amos Mac, and Annabel Gat. “Every Pregnant Woman Should Get A Doula, Study Says.” Broadly. N.p., 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

Chee, Allie. “A Postpartum Doula for Every Motherby Allie Chee.” A Postpartum Doula for

Every Mother – by Allie Chee. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

Dekker, Rebecca. “A Doula Facilitates Skin-to-Skin in the Operating Room.” Evidence Based

Birth®. EBB, 01 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 May 2017.

Gruber, Kenneth J., Susan H. Cupito, and Christina F. Dobson. “Impact of Doulas on Healthy

Birth Outcomes.” The Journal of Perinatal Education. Springer Publishing Company, 2013. Web. 02 May 2017.

“The Evidence On: Doulas.” Evidence Based Birth®. EBB, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

“Women’s Health Care Physicians.” Approaches for Ob-gyns and Maternity Care Providers to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth in Low-Risk Pregnancies – ACOG. ACOG, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

 

 

 

Mind your own uterus t-shirt campaign.

As our doulas are preparing to support families during the most joyous occasion of bringing their baby into the world, they are also preparing to comfort a family through the most difficult time of losing their baby – in any trimester. Trinity Doula Services never charges a family for bereavement services. But our doulas still endure some costs – child care for an uncertain amount of time, gas to get to wherever the family is, food and self care for herself while away from home and her family.

So, thanks to wonderful idea from a client who heart Sarah utter her usual phrase of ‘People should mind their own uterus”; she suggested that it be put on a t-shirt! So that is exactly what we did. You can get these one of a kind t-shirts to speak your mind for you and help support the doulas as they support bereaved families.

If you don’t want to purchase a shirt but still want to help, you can donate through the campaign as well on the website listed below.

https://www.booster.com/mind-your-own-uterus

If you’d like to make a donation for TDS to support bereaved families please send them using this paypal link. Paypal.me/TrinityDoulaServices

Cesarean Awareness Month

April is Cesarean Awareness Month and Sarah shared a picture of her cesarean scar and wrote the following. “I’m about to be very open and transparent so hang on. This is my cesarean scar. It brought my second child into the world. It was not life or death. It was because she was breech. I was given no options. Not a single person mentioned trying to manually turn her. I was told to put a bag of peas under my ribs where her head was and that was it. I kept going into labor. I asked if anyone attended breech births to which I was quickly told ‘no!’. Which I later learned yes there are. A cesarean was my only option I was told. I didn’t fight it. Surgery did go well, after about 4 attempts to numb me that is. It was so cold in that OR. I was so nervous, I had never had any type of surgery. I wasn’t prepared for a cesarean. I was going to birth my baby with no pain meds. That is what I had prepared for. The tugging and pressure was insane because she was so wedged under my ribs. My daughter had bruises on her arm and leg from being yanked out. Then her cry, it was beautiful. I got to see and kiss her and get an upside down meeting my baby picture. She went to the nursery and I remained there to be put back together. I was shaking so bad. I was so alone with all of these strangers. I think I had met the OB once or twice during my pregnancy. I was given something for the shakes and it made my entire body break out I hives and red blotches. A nurse (it was her first cesarean she said) screamed “oh my god!” when she removed the draping from my legs. No one wants to hear that when you are strapped to a OR table. The resident came and looked a my chest and arms, which were covered in hives. I thought I was going to die for a minute. I already was freaked out because I couldn’t feel myself breathing, I had to look down at my chest to make sure it was going up and down. I was kept in the recovery room for about 2 hours. Making sure the hives went away and that I remained stable. They never brought me my baby. She needed oxygen and couldn’t leave the nicu. My spinal lasted about 3x as long as it was supposed to. It took about 8 hours before I could get into a wheelchair to go see my baby. Her respiratory distress was because she was born via cesarean. We spent 8 days in the hospital. I healed, slowly and painfully, but physically I healed. I was unsure if I wanted more kids because I couldn’t fathom going through that again. But about 2 years later my third daughter was going to be making her arrival. I knew I could vbac, my mom did it with me, it can be done. I didn’t face much opposition until 38 weeks when she flipped breech. I was hysterical. The ultrasound tech and the OB were pessimistic and reluctantly agreed to a version the following week. As we left, he told the nurse to schedule it to and an OR because it would end up being a repeat cesarean. He didn’t know I heard him. I was livid. How could he doubt me and my baby so easily? I did everything I could to turn her and less than 48 hours later had a successful vbac without him. And then 2 years later did it again. Women shouldn’t be told they can’t birth their babies vaginally and pushed into a cesarean without even being given again chance for their body to do what it is designed to do. 2/3 of women who try for a vbac are successful, but why is the vbac rate so low? Only about 10% of women are vbacing. Why aren’t we as friends and family more supportive of mothers to do research and make their own choices? Why aren’t more medical providers supportive? Studies prove it’s safest for most women to vbac rather than have multiple surgeries. Why are we perpetuating the myth that women are broken? I am scarred, but I am not broken and neither are you. #scarredbutnotbroken#cesareanawareness “.

There were some mixed reactions to the post. I’m sure someone thought I was only talking about how bad cesareans are. But anyone who has ever spent 5 minutes talking to me knows that I support all birth. Where I get fired up is when women are not being told the truth, their options or are forced and coerced into things they do not want. On the other hand, I do want women to know about the risks that come along with a cesarean. They are wonderful and life-saving. I am so glad we have the medical technology to do this and save moms and babies. But what I do not like is cesareans being painted to be unicorns and rainbows because they sure the hell are not that. Do some women have really easy recoveries? Sure they do. Just like some women have super horrible recoveries. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for any type of birth. Every mother and pregnancy is different. Every woman’s story is different. Just because Jane Doe had 3 elective cesareans that went so smoothly you wouldn’t know she had surgery, doesn’t mean Janet Doe will have the same experience.  I just want people to be mindful of what they tell expecting women when talking about their personal birth experiences.

The other part of this that I want to talk about is VBAC, again, if you have spent 5 minutes with me you know I LOVE VBACs. I am a vbac baby, I’ve had 2vbacs, helping women vbac makes me so happy. But VBAC isn’t for everyone and I respect that. I am just enraged that women aren’t being options. Or when their care provider(or friends/family/online person in a random forum) tell them that it’s an option but only talk negatively about it – filling women with fear and doubt in their body’s ability to do what it’s designed to do – subsequently causing the women to hastily choose the major abdominal surgery for no reason other than she is scared into it. That is not informed consent. Don’t get me wrong, there are awesome care providers out there that are very evidence based and give every woman they see compassionate care. But this type of coercion also happens with all sorts of other things in regards to a birthing mother’s choices and it needs to stop.

If you’ve managed to get through all of that I just want you to take away one thing. We support ALL moms, ALL babies, ALL families and ALL BIRTHS. If you are happy with your birth, so are we.

To learn more about informed consent, cesareans and vbacs visit EBB , ICAN & Vbac Facts

#birthmatters

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The fight against PPD rages on…

You may remember me from a blog about postpartum depression that was posted a while back. In that blog, I laid bare my experience of the previous weeks. I was raw, open and honest about what it is really like to struggle with postpartum depression. By the end of the blog, you may have thought that “the worst is over”. I thought so too! But here I am 3 months after having my baby and the last two weeks have been hell. I have felt like I was losing that grip on happiness that I had found just a few weeks ago. Around the time that I wrote that blog, I had felt like I had finally peeked my head above the fog. I was still in the thick of it, but I was rising and could see the sunlight and the beauty of my new “normal”. But now, just a few short weeks later, I am sinking back below that fog, clawing at whatever I can to stay up. But I’ll be honest. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under me just when I think I have a good handle on things. So I am writing another blog, which I did not plan to do, because there may be someone reading this that feels tired too.

To the mom that feels like she will never be enough for her family. To the mom that worries she is starting to annoy her friends with her constant anxiety about ridiculous things. To the mom that looks at herself in pictures and wonders if her eyes will ever look happy again. To the mom who feels total guilt for losing patience with their older child who you know is only acting up because they are jealous of the new baby. To the mom who feels guilt because you aren’t as sad as you should be when you drop your kids off at daycare to go to work. To the mom giving her child popcorn for supper because she doesn’t have the mental fortitude tonight to handle a crying baby and a clingy toddler and cook a nice meal. To the mom who cries in the shower because she doesn’t want her partner to know just how awful she feels.

I see you.

To the mom who sometimes wonders if she made the right decision having another child. To the mom who loves both of her children so much more than she could ever explain but still briefly considers running away. To the mom who is touched out. To the mom who feels guilty for depending too much on her partner for the third month in a row. To the mom who’s nerves are shot. To the mom who sometimes feels like her family and friends would be so much better off without her bothering them. To the mom who worries that her toddler can feel her sadness.

I see you.

We will get through this. If you ever read any mom blog ever, you know that this is a phase. Right now it feels hopeless and endless, but eventually, it will end. Things may not get easier, but they will get more “normal” and we will be able to cope. Parenting is one of the most incredible journeys a person could ever take. But we’d be lying if we pretended that things were always great. No, children aren’t the worst (most of the time), and parenting isn’t terrible (again, most of the time). But it is SO. DAMN. HARD. And it’s even harder when you are battling the beast that is PPD. AND IT IS A BATTLE. We fight this fight daily. Some days, it’s a fight to smile and some days, it’s a fight to get out of bed. But we continue to fight because we know that eventually that fog will lift again. Eventually we will climb back up to the sunshine and the beauty. Eventually we will smile again and actually mean it.
Please continue to fight this fight with me. I won’t give up on you. – Doula Megan

One mom’s struggle with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

It finally happened. I was at Walmart with my 2 year old and my 7 week old. It was cold, I had a car full of groceries and both kids were tired and hungry and screaming. I get everyone settled into the car and buckle myself in, thankful for 30 minutes of time in which no one will be touching me. I go to start the car and hear that God-awful clicking that tells you that—- you guessed it—- my battery was deader than a doornail. I calmly call my sweet father in law and ask him to come rescue me and he quickly obliges. In the meantime, I stand outside of the car next to the screaming, hungry baby, enjoying my coffee, shushing and intermittently yelling at the toddler to stop kicking the seat. I promise there is a purpose to me telling you this, but first, let me give you some back story.

 

Seven weeks before this, I had just given birth under fairly traumatic circumstances. It was Christmas Eve and my husband came down with a stomach bug. I didn’t think much about it—- actually I figured he had overindulged at one of our earlier dinners— so I sent him to bed and my toddler and I went on to my grandma’s house. Everything was great until we were in the middle of opening presents and I had to run to the bathroom or risk vomiting all over my new stand-up mixer. I decided that maybe hubby was sick after all and begged my mom to please take my toddler home with her so that she could hopefully avoid this plague. My husband then came and picked me up (I had ridden with my mom, who had just left with my daughter). As I was walking to the car, I got so sick that I peed all over myself (pretty par for the course for someone who is 9 months pregnant). As the night wore on, I became sicker and sicker and because I was so dehydrated, my Braxton hicks contractions became unbearable. At about 3 am Christmas morning, I woke up my husband and told him that I needed to go to the hospital for fluids because I wasn’t feeling the baby move and I was way too dehydrated. We finally made it to the hospital and they started the nausea medicine and fluids. Protocol said that they had to check me because of the contractions, and I agreed because they were getting increasingly painful. It was then that they discovered that my water had broken. Remember when I was vomiting and thought I had peed myself? Yeah, that rush of fluids was actually my membranes rupturing. So on Christmas Day 2016, at 36 weeks pregnant and while sick with the stomach flu, I gave birth to my son, Avery. As hard as all of that was, I had no clue how difficult my life was about to become.

 

We left the hospital when Avery was two days old. I was so ready to get home and see my daughter, but I had this gnawing fear inside of me. Honestly, “fear” isn’t even a strong enough word. I was terrified. I was terrified about how I would be able to care for my two babies who both needed me so much. Terrified about how I would feed the baby since he wasn’t nursing well. Terrified about how I would get laundry done. You name it, and I was scared of it. These feelings often brought on panic attacks and after two days of being at home and me alternating between hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably, my husband and I decided I needed to go see my OB/GYN. We made the appointment with her nurse practitioner and I was told that I was suffering from Postpartum Anxiety. I remember saying, “this is different from postpartum depression, right?” because women with postpartum depression want to suffocate their babies, and I was just having a tiny bit of anxiety (oh if I would have known then what I know now). The nurse stated that they could up the medication that I already take for anxiety and that was my best option due to me wanting to breastfeed. I sat there and cried, begging for something that would work faster, and she assured me that I would start to feel better in a week or two. Without any real hope, we left the appointment and went home. Sometime that afternoon, my husband ran to get our daughter from the babysitter and left me home alone with the baby. Immediately, I started having panic attacks. I left the room because I was crying so loudly I was afraid I would wake the baby up. I remember hitting my head against the wall and begging the thoughts to stop. I remember dropping to my knees and begging God to just end me because I couldn’t do it. I thought I was going to die because there was no way a person could live through something like this. At that point, the nurse called to give me some blood test results. Upon hearing my voice, she knew something was wrong and told me that I needed to go to the emergency room. I cried and explained that I couldn’t because they would take my babies and I was not crazy, I was just having a hard time adjusting (again, how wrong I was). At this point, my husband came home and saw what a mess I was. He too was scared and agreed that I needed to go to the hospital. So we loaded Avery up and left our daughter with her grandparents, and again, I was terrified. I didn’t know when I would see her again because I truly thought that they would commit me. We got to the hospital and I was so confused that I couldn’t even verbalize why I was there. I was given medication and sent home. And this began my journey through postpartum depression.

 

I wish I could tell you that going to the hospital fixed everything, but I would be lying. I wish I could tell you that I never experienced another panic attack, but again that wouldn’t be the truth. The whole purpose of this post is to show the real deep dark side of postpartum depression and with that I will say that the next 5 weeks of my life were absolute hell. More often than not during those weeks, I did not want to hold my son or my daughter because I was terrified I would hurt them. When I would agree to hold my son (generally only out of necessity), it was like someone had given me a stranger’s baby. He was adorable, he was precious, but I loved him like he could have been anyone’s child. To be completely honest, part of me was so angry with him—-a newborn—- because I would never have gone through this if it wasn’t for him (this shows the irrational thinking that occurs when one is experiencing PPD/PPA). Common mundane tasks continued to give me debilitating anxiety. My family tried to be as reassuring as possible by telling me that I was a great mom and that if anyone could handle this situation, I could, but this was not helpful. I constantly tried to explain how I was feeling to my husband and my family who now looked at me with pitiful expressions and treated me with “kid gloves” because they were scared to set me off. I tried to explain how PPD/PPA feels like your body and hormones are in control and you are just along for the ride. I tried to explain how I would never WANT to hurt my babies, but that this lack of control made me fearful that I would. I tried to explain that it didn’t matter how great of a parent they thought I was because this anxiety over having to do the dishes or fold the laundry or sweep the floor was eating me alive. Explaining was pointless because it is impossible to understand postpartum depression unless you have went through it. Here you are, having just experienced the miracle that is birth, and you just have this inexplicable sadness and fear. The world tells you that you are supposed to be rejoicing in this time and soaking up every minute, and having any differing feelings leaves you feeling like a failed parent—- like you don’t deserve this child. Thankfully, angels in the form of friends and family came to me in this time and reassured me that they too had experienced PPD/PPA and that it doesn’t last forever, even though it feels like it will never end. These angels would check in on me almost daily, and some days, I honestly think talking with them kept me alive.

 

If you have stuck with me this long, I promise I am almost done. Let’s come back to the current day, where my baby is now 7 weeks old. Here I am stranded at Walmart with my two screaming kids and I am calmly sipping my coffee and idly shushing my baby. HOW DID I GET HERE? After reading all of this, you now know that if this would have happened 6 weeks prior, I would have ended up in the fetal position on the concrete, probably crying louder than my children. But thanks to the things I am about to mention, I can now see the light at the end of the postpartum depression tunnel. If you are reading this and are experiencing postpartum depression, here is what you need to pay attention to. Here is what helped me, and may help you too.

 

First and foremost, you have NOTHING to be ashamed about so do not hide this. Hiding this is probably the worst possible thing you can do because it will lead you to feel isolated and you will not get the help that you need. Are you hearing me? DO NOT BE ASHAMED OR EMBARRASSED BY THIS. Find someone that you trust to talk to. More people experience this than we realize, so I would be willing to bet that you could find a friend or family member that would be able to sympathize. The next most important thing is to talk to your doctor. These feelings you are experiencing are some of the worst you will ever have and you should not have to go through them on your own. Speak to your doctor about what you can do to get through this tough time, whether that is medication or talk therapy (personally, I utilized both). Next, let your friends and family help you. Drop that mom guilt— I know, this is much easier said than done— and know that there is no shame in asking someone to help you fold your laundry or clean up your living room when you have a newborn. More people may be willing to help than you realize. Finally, find something that you can do to get through those moments of sadness or anxiety. My escape was journaling and hand lettering. I would sit and write short sentences declaring all of the good things in my life and the things that I know to be true. I would copy inspirational quotes into my journal and let their words soak in as I was writing them. Do whatever works for you.

 

My final thought for this post is to tell you that although I am feeling much better, and I am seeing my mood and my overall outlook drastically improving, healing from postpartum depression is a process. This is not something that happens overnight or with one dose of medication. This takes time— sometimes weeks or months worth of time. And that is okay because as I have learned in these past seven weeks, healing is not linear. There will be ups and there will be downs but the important thing is that you keep moving forward with your life. Eventually these feelings will end and you will be able to enjoy your life and family again. In the meantime, take care of yourself and know that there are millions of other women in that valley with you. You are not alone.  – M.

Expanded service area!

Since welcoming Candice to the TDS team, our service area has grown quite a bit!

TDS attends births at all hospitals in the following areas.

  • Centralia, IL.
  • Carbondale, IL.
  • Marion, IL.
  • Mt. Vernon, IL.
  • Breese, IL.
  • Olney, IL.
  • Effingham, IL.
  • Belleville, IL.
  • Shiloh, IL
  • Greenville, IL.
  • Evansville, IN
  • Newburg, IN
  • Paducah, KY

We also attend home births within our service area. Check out our map below. If your area isn’t covered, we may be able to still assist you. Just contact us and ask!

 

 

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Facebook groups for moms!

We like to help moms build their support network, have a safe place to vent to or to ask questions. Doula Sarah admins several of these groups on facebook! If you’d like to join any of them, just click the links below and you’ll be approved and able to connect with other local moms in no time! There’s even a milk sharing, vbac and crunchy group.

SI Moms Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/simoms/

Southern Illinois Milk Sharing – https://www.facebook.com/groups/578390675690314/

Vbac group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/vbachbac/

Crunchy Moms of the Heartland – https://www.facebook.com/groups/tristatecrunchymommas/

Tri-state Pregnancy Corner – https://www.facebook.com/groups/tristatepreg/