CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — A facility here that houses high-risk pregnant women from U.S. bases throughout the Pacific is opening its doors to entire families to help relieve some stress the women may have prior to giving birth.

Women who stay in the Stork’s Nest — four cottages near U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa — come from U.S. facilities including in South Korea, Guam and mainland Japan, according to Kelly Gabayan, director of the Armed Services YMCA.

The free lodging is for women who have high-risk pregnancies or are carrying more than one child. They are placed in the facility so they will be close to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the only one of its kind in the Far East.

In years past, the soon-to-be mothers and their husbands could stay in the cottages but children were not allowed. Two of the cottages recently have been spruced up and “childproofed” so entire families now can stay.

“It’s such a stressful time,” Gabayan said. “Bringing them here with their families alleviates some of that stress.” She said that previously, couples with children often had to be separated while the mother was at the Stork’s Nest. Fathers used to stay behind at their duty stations and care for the couple’s other children.

The Stork’s Nest’s four houses each have four bedrooms. Two houses are designed for families and two for couples, Gabayan said. Up to four families and eight couples can be housed at a time.

A fifth cottage, currently under renovation, will house administrative offices and serve as overflow billeting for patients.

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