Pregnant? Hoping to be? Come learn how to control your experience in a time of change

Submitted 19 days ago
Created by
Mark Travis

If you live in the Upper Valley and are pregnant or hoping to be, Kelly Brogan would love to see you on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 28. She’ll be part of a discussion intended to help you take control of the life-changing experience to come.

Brogan is a hospital-based midwife and one of five varied providers who will join in a roundtable on “Empowering Birth” from 6 to 8 p.m. on the 28th at Open Door Integrative Wellness on North Main Street in White River Junction. There is no cost to attend, and light refreshments will be served.

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It's one in a number of such gatherings the center has hosted. "We want Open Door to be a hub for these kinds of discussions in the Upper Valley," said Britton Mann, a doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and a partner at the center. 

The roundtable comes at a time when many women and providers in the Upper Valley are adjusting to a change that leaves only one choice for hospital-based delivery: the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

But the challenges of pregnancy and delivery can seem overwhelming under any circumstances, especially for first-time mothers, Brogan said, and that itself makes this a conversation worth having.

“If you’ve never been pregnant before,” Brogan said, “if you’ve never had a baby before, you’re kind of like ‘How does this all go?’ You’re looking for someone, for some format to help gain that knowledge, that skill, that confidence.”

Providing patients with all that is the heart of her practice, which encompasses pre- and post-natal care as well as delivery itself.

“I catch babies,” Brogan said. “I also work with families in helping them prepare for their child, prepare for the addition of siblings to an established family, helping women gain strength themselves to figure out what they want and how their pregnancy is evolving for them. I’m a trusted confidante.”

Brogan has 24 years of midwifing experience and has always practiced in a hospital setting, as opposed to facilitating home births. She was working at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital when word came earlier this year that its birthing center was closing, with delivery services shifting to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

The two hospitals are affiliated, but of course Dartmouth-Hitchcock is much larger, so the change generated anxiety among expectant mothers and practitioners about a loss of the intimacy that comes in working with a small team of caregivers and culminates in a delivery attended by a midwife or doctor who knows you well.

Brogan, now affiliated with both hospitals but speaking only for herself, has been surprised by how well that transition has gone -- starting, she said, with caregivers at both institutions who put the mothers first.

“It goes back to that sense of I am here for you, listening to you, fully present, I am going to support you,” she said. “Maybe we haven’t had 12 visits where we’ve spent hours alone together, but I know birth, I know this institution, I can guide you, help empower you ... and make sure you are actively involved in what’s going on.”

Brogan said she was looking forward not just to sharing what she knows, but hearing the concerns and questions of women who attend. The closing of Alice Peck Day’s birthing center wasn’t the first in the region, and it reflects a broader trend toward concentrating delivery in larger institutions with higher caseloads.

“This is the new normal,” she said, “so let’s work with it. Let’s acknowledge it, and let’s better it.”

Joining Brogan in the roundtable will be Dr. Julie Braga, an obstetrician, and Dr. Tricia Groff, a pediatrician, both affiliated with Dartmouth-Hitchcock; Jennifer Pia Needleman, a homebirth midwife; and Katie Williams, a community-based birth and postpartum doula. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. William Nelson, an associate professor at The Dartmouth Institute.

To learn more about the event or to RSVP, email Katie Williams at

In addition to hosting events such as the roundtable, Open Door offers an array of services, classes and programs delivered by an integrated team of practitioners with training in practices ranging from counseling to nutrition, acupuncture, bodywork, personal training and physical therapy.

Its offerings related to women's health include acupuncturists who treat women from menarche to menopause as well as movement classes for perinatal health.

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