The River Center in Peterborough launches “Your Pregnancy” group

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/24/2021 11:50:21 AM

The River Center in Peterborough is beginning a new program for expectant parents, which group leader and Family Support Specialist Mackenzie Nichols said has the potential to really help provide a network of support for those who attend. 

According to Nichols, the group, “Your Pregnancy,” will fill a need that isn’t being met elsewhere in the region. She said the availability of classes and groups to support expectant parents is minimal, and became even more limited during the pandemic, when Monadnock Community Hospital shuttered many of its similar programs due to safety protocols.

“I saw a huge need,” Nichols said. “When COVID happened, it was really evident that we needed to do something.”

She said The River Center received multiple requests for help locating a similar class, and when there wasn’t anything that could be found locally, it was time to start one. Nichols has extensive experience in this area, as before she started working for The River Center in 2019, she worked at MCH in the birthing suite and an OB-GYN. 

“My passion is definitely mothers and babies, and helping through that process of a big life-changing event,” she said.

While at the hospital, Nichols did childbirth education and helped run groups for mothers, and kept pursuing that line of work at The River Center. 

“They look to us as facilitators to decide what we want to offer,” Nichols said. 

The group itself will be a casual childbirth education class and support group, open to pregnant individuals, their partners and their “support people,” who could be friends or family members. Meeting biweekly, the group will go over childbirth topics to prepare attendees for delivery, but that is not the sole focus, according to Nichols.

“It also is looking at the bigger picture of creating a support network for these families, these parents, these moms, post-baby,” she said. “Some of my greatest friendships came out of mom groups in that sort of setting – hopefully they’re relationships that you’ll build and can be taken into your daily life.”

Because of this emphasis on group connections, classes will be mostly group-led, without a strict curriculum, Nichols said. Discussions might center around specific pregnancy topics, but they will also discuss challenges and positives in everyday life.

“It’s really kind of different than a typical childbirth group,” Nichols said, which typically go over a couple of consecutive days and cover basic pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum topics chronologically. This group, since it will be open to those at all stages of pregnancy, will cover those topics more loosely. 

“Just supportive, nonjudgmental, a platform for people to talk about things and think about what it is they think they want,” Nichols said. 

Mothers who are on their fourth child are just as welcome as those pregnant for the first time, and Nichols said that she hopes for everybody’s different experiences to inform each other and lead to thoughtful discussion. 

“My hope is that it’s really clear that it’s for anybody,” Nichols said. “And you’re never too knowledgeable – it’s really beneficial for everybody. It’s just a place to go, a place to chat, connect with other people who are going through something similar.”

The first official meeting of the group was scheduled for Nov. 16, but was postponed due to a low volume of those registered. Now they’re ready to start up Nov. 30 with a small group. Nichols said that once word begins to spread, she is hoping for more people to sign up.

All River Center groups are free. Those interested are asked to register on the center’s website, rivercenternh.org, and notify them if and when they can make it. While the groups are traditionally drop-in style and flexible, Nichols said that people benefit more from the groups when everybody tries to make it as often as possible.

The hope, Nichols said, is that The River Center can provide a space like this throughout early childhood, through their other groups such as “Baby and Me” for infants and babies up to 2 years, and “Mini Explorers” for 2- to 5-year-olds.

“That’s our hope, is that people will come for the long haul,” Nichols said. “They’ll join, they’ll make friendships, they’ll enjoy it, and we’ll get to sort of experience childhood with them and watch them bond and grow together.”




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