As you start your pregnancy journey, you may have different options for prenatal care. While many women still seek traditional one-on-one appointments with their OB-GYN or midwife, more women are taking advantage of group health care like CenteringPregnancy®.
The cornerstone of CenteringPregnancy® is the group discussion that takes place for the majority of each visit. During this time the group of moms — who are all due around the same time — have a chance to talk with their providers and fellow moms about important topics including labor and delivery, breastfeeding and infant care. Each CenteringPregnancy® visit also includes self-led health assessments and one-on-one belly checks with your OB-GYN or midwife.
Benefits for mom and baby
As group prenatal care has grown in popularity over the years, research has shown this type of healthcare can have a positive effect on both mothers and babies. A Yale School of Public Health study showed women who participated in group prenatal care were more likely to have healthy babies and go the full term of their pregnancy. According to the research, women in group prenatal care are:
- 33 percent less likely to have undersized infants
- Less likely to have a preterm delivery or an infant with low birth weight
- More likely to have babies that spend less time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
- Less likely to get pregnant again soon after giving birth, which can increase risk of preterm delivery
According to research done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women attending group prenatal care are also more likely to:
- Feel ready for labor and delivery
- Have better prenatal knowledge
- Feel more satisfied with their care
- Start breastfeeding
Balancing private time with group sessions
While much of the CenteringPregnancy® visit will consist of group discussion time, it’s important to note that CenteringPregnancy® does not eliminate the one-on-one interaction you get with your provider. Every visit will include private belly time where your doctor or midwife will take measurements and check your baby’s health. You can use this time to ask questions that you may not be comfortable sharing with the group.
Your care team will also take part in the group sessions and help lead many of the discussions. As most CenteringPregnancy® visits last between 90 minutes and two hours, this means you actually get 10 times the amount of time with your provider compared to a typical office visit.
Finding friendship and support
One of the main goals of the CenteringPregnancy® visits is for women to connect with fellow moms who are facing the same questions about giving birth and infant care. You may feel more relaxed and confident after talking through some of your concerns with the women in your group. You may also find unique solutions and points of view that can help you approach a problem in a different way.
The group sessions are also a great time for partners, spouses and care people to connect with others who will be helping with delivery and infant care. These individuals can participate in all aspects of the CenteringPregnancy® visit.
Remember you don’t have to share during the group session if you’re not comfortable doing so. But you may find you feel more comfortable sharing information as time goes on.
Keep in mind that all women and their care persons in the CenteringPregnancy® group are told to maintain discretion with any information shared during the visits, and in some cases, participants are asked to sign a confidentiality form during the first visit.
Empowering women to lead healthy lives
Another goal of the CenteringPregnancy® visits is to help women better understand their health and empower them to take charge of their lifestyle and risk factors. Sessions include education about healthy choices and preventive steps you can take to avoid health problems during or after pregnancy, such as diabetes or heart conditions.
Each visit starts with a self-led health assessment, which means you learn how to take your own health data, including weight and blood pressure. You track this data throughout the CenteringPregnancy® visits and record it in your own medical records.
You will also have the opportunity to set health and lifestyle goals. The goals may focus on weight, diet, hydration, stress management, relationships or any other challenges you may be facing during pregnancy. Ultimately, the CenteringPregnancy® program aims to help women stay healthy and confident throughout their pregnancy and into motherhood.