For most pregnant women, prenatal appointments are typically a one-on-one experience with an OB/GYN or midwife. But a growing trend in prenatal care called CenteringPregnancy® is shifting the way women receive care during pregnancy.
CenteringPregnancy® combines the one-on-one provider experience with group prenatal care. Over the course of 10 prenatal visits, women receive routine prenatal care and spend time discussing pregnancy health topics with a group of 8 to 12 expecting moms who are all due at the same time.
With this group-based program, moms not only receive personalized prenatal health care, they also have an opportunity to build friendships and community that can support them throughout pregnancy and motherhood.
What does a CenteringPregnancy® visit include?
CenteringPregnancy® visits include health assessments, a belly check with your provider and discussion time with the group of moms. Meetings start at 16 weeks of pregnancy and continue through the moms’ due date month.
Unlike typical one-on-one visits, CenteringPregnancy® visits last between 90 minutes and two hours. This means moms get 10 times the average time spent with a provider during a prenatal check-up.
Every CenteringPregnancy® meeting starts with a health assessment, which is a time to check and record your basic health data. What’s unique about the CenteringPregnancy program is that you’ll learn how to take your own weight and blood pressure and document the information in your own chart.
Each meeting also includes one-on-one time with your provider for a private belly check. You can also use this time to ask private questions that you may not feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the group.
In addition to the health check-ups, most of the CenteringPregnancy® visit includes ample group time with fellow moms and their partners or support people. During the group discussion, your care team will lead conversations and interactive activities that cover important topics like nutrition, stress management, common discomforts, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and infant care.
The group discussion period always includes time for moms to discuss and ask questions about topics that are important to them.
What are the benefits of CenteringPregnancy®?
CenteringPregnancy® has been shown to improve the lives and outcomes of pregnant women. While the program may not be for everyone, it can bring many benefits for expecting moms and their families, including:
- Empowering moms to take charge of their own health
- Helping moms create friendships that can support them throughout pregnancy and motherhood
- Encouraging positive health behaviors and better health outcomes
- Helping ease anxiety and feelings of isolation that many new moms face
Research has also shown that CenteringPregnancy can improve birth outcomes, such as:
- Lowering your risk of preterm births
- Reducing low birth weight
- Increasing breastfeeding rates
In fact, a 2015 study done by the Yale School of Public Health found that group prenatal care can help the health of mother and baby. The study showed that women who participated in group prenatal care were 33 percent less likely to have babies with a low birth weight. The moms who had group care also had babies who spent less time in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Is CenteringPregnancy® covered under my insurance?
Group prenatal care like CenteringPregnancy® is usually billed to your insurance plan as a prenatal visit, so there shouldn’t be extra out-of-pocket costs for participating. Because CenteringPregnancy is your prenatal visit, it isn’t considered to be an added service, such as a childbirth education class. However, it’s important to talk with your insurance provider first to check your coverage.
To learn more about CenteringPregnancy® and whether it’s right for you, talk to your provider or care team.
Ginny Bowers is a Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at Chesapeake Women’s Health in Easton.