FORT HOOD — The staff of the Women’s Health Center at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center keeps the doors of vacant labor and delivery rooms open — lately, they’ve all been shut as Fort Hood sees its highest number of births in four years.
Last month, 246 babies were born at the hospital, 50 more than the July before, said Lt. Col. Nancy Parson, chief of maternal child health.
The trend is expected to continue for the next four to five months, with enrollment of expectant mothers capped through November.
“It does look like deployment played a role here,” said Parson. “Now that everyone is back, it will probably continue.”
She added that August and September are traditionally high birth months, because people have time off during the holiday season. Coupled with the fact that the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and three brigades in the 1st Cavalry Division returned home within the last nine to 12 months, there are a lot of babies being born — about 10 a day.
Any day with more than seven births is considered busy, said Parson.
“It’s funny because you can’t walk around post without seeing a bunch of pregnant women,” said 1st Lt. Randy Wintermantel, 36th Engineer Brigade, who returned from deployment about a year ago and gave birth to Isabella on Aug. 14.
Even though the hospital was busy, Wintermantel said giving birth at Darnall was a good experience.
“They take took care of us the whole time,” she said.
One way Darnall meets the growing demand is through the Centering Program, which gives patients the opportunity to attend appointments in groups.
“They still get their individual appointments, but patients like it because it helps them build support,” said Parson.
Darnall’s record high for births came in 2008, peaking in October with 273.
The hospital could support more births, but open registered nurse positions hold it back, said Parson.
“We have the capability of 12 patients a day, but we usually only have seven or eight, because of staffing,” she said.
Pfc. Julian Howard II, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, said he had no idea his son was part of a military baby boom, but it will definitely be a story to share with him when he gets older.
“I knew there were a lot of pregnant women in the health center,” said his wife, Javone Howard, who gave birth to Julian Howard III on Aug. 13.
“Congrats to all the other baby boomers,” said Julian Howard.