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It takes a Village Friend

Samantha Gonzales, patient and participant of the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program, receives a sonogram to check her baby’s heartrate and growth at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program hopes to alleviate some of the stressors that are associated with pregnancy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Samantha Gonzales, patient and participant of the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program, receives a sonogram to check her baby’s heartrate and growth at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program hopes to alleviate some of the stressors that are associated with pregnancy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Samantha Gonzales, patient and participant of the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program, waits for a sonogram at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. Village Friends still provide essential care that would be provided during a traditional one-on-one visit, such as taking vitals of the mother and providing sonograms to monitor fetal growth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Samantha Gonzales, patient and participant of the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program, waits for a sonogram at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. Village Friends still provide essential care that would be provided during a traditional one-on-one visit, such as taking vitals of the mother and providing sonograms to monitor fetal growth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

The Village Friends OB Care program performs sonograms to monitor fetal growth at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program based off the Department of Defense Purple Book and the Centering Pregnancy program which was initiated at the Liberty Wing in November 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

The Village Friends OB Care program performs sonograms to monitor fetal growth at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program based off the Department of Defense Purple Book and the Centering Pregnancy program which was initiated at the Liberty Wing in November 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Patients and participants converse before the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program begins at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program was created to provide more patient involvement, education, empowerment and socialization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Patients and participants converse before the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program begins at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program was created to provide more patient involvement, education, empowerment and socialization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Senior Airman Jamie Eriksson, 48th Surgical Operations Squadron Obstetrics/Gynecologist medical technician, assists a patient during the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care meeting at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program provides prenatal care in a group setting of 8-12 women with similar due dates. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

Senior Airman Jamie Eriksson, 48th Surgical Operations Squadron Obstetrics/Gynecologist medical technician, assists a patient during the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care meeting at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Oct. 25, 2019. The program provides prenatal care in a group setting of 8-12 women with similar due dates. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhonda Smith)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Pregnancy can be a stressful experience. It can be especially stressful while being in an overseas environment away from friends and family but the 48th Surgical Operations Squadron aims to bridge that gap with the Village Friends Group Obstetrics Care program.

The Village Friends mission is to alleviate some of the stressors, fear and loneliness associated with pregnancy by bringing together, in a group setting, 8-12 expectant mothers with similar due dates.

“I feel it is essential for each mother to have a support system and Village Friends provides that through more patient involvement, education, empowerment and socialization,” said Senior Airman Jamie Eriksson, 48th Surgical Operations Squadron Obstetrics/Gynecologist medical technician. “The program has helped 103 women this year and provides education and resources including nutrition/exercise, Women Infants and Children program, lactation/breastfeeding, and preterm labor precautions.”

The Liberty Wing initiated the prenatal support program in Nov. 2012 and it provides essential care similar to what would be provided during a traditional one-on-one visit such as taking vitals of the expectant mother and conducting sonograms to monitor fetal growth.

“I had an amazing experience with Village Friends,” said Nichole Lloyd, former patient and program participant. “As a first-time mom, everything is new and exciting but also nerve-racking. I wanted all the information and support I could get to care for my new baby.”

The care of 48th Fighter Wing Airmen and their family members through primary and alternative methods of treatment to improve patient care will always remain a top priority for the 48th Medical Group.