Can Group Prenatal Care Improve Your Pregnancy?
By Destiny Little, BSN, RN
Assistant Nurse Manager, Virtua Women's Center - Lumberton
Many pregnancy experts consider CenteringPregnancy to be the next step for advancing quality prenatal care. CenteringPregnancy, which was created by the Centering Healthcare Institute in Boston, is “a multi-faceted model of group care that integrates...health assessment, education, and support into a unified program within a group setting,” according to the CHI website.
We are thrilled to be able to offer this innovative kind of prenatal care to our patients—all around it’s just better care. Women begin the program somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy, and they are grouped together by gestational age (how many weeks pregnant). This means they have lots of opportunities to share common issues with other women who are going through the same stage. These sessions don’t just replace traditional prenatal visits—they offer significant enhancements.
How CenteringPregnancy differs from traditional prenatal care
- Each group meets 10 times, for 2 hours each meeting; traditional prenatal visits are typically 20 minutes. This extra time allows women to build relationships with one another, become better informed about their care, and get to know their providers.
- Our providers are actively involved throughout the entire visit. First, they spend time with individuals to listen to the baby’s heart and assess growth. Then, they meet with the group to talk with them about that session’s topic, as well as address common questions and concerns.
- Each session also features an interactive component that addresses topics important to women during pregnancy including breastfeeding, diet and nutrition, preparation for childbirth, and preparation for bringing the baby home.
- The extra time also allows the group to learn from other resources including lactation consultants, dietitians, yoga instructors and anesthesiologists for epidural demonstrations. In addition, they have nurse-guided tours of the labor and delivery unit. We even partner with community resources to provide raffle prizes, spa vouchers, and even a “baby sprinkle” during our final session.
CenteringPregnancy is an exciting way to experience prenatal care because of all the ways it addresses the physical, emotional, and social needs of our mothers-to-be. This is even true for veteran moms who find the information valuable, but who also can be a support to new moms as well. Mothers who have been through the program in other parts of the country report experiences like the following:
- “The other women in the group became my friends.”
- “I felt like I was in a family.”
- “Although it was a group, it seemed more intimate. More time was spent on specific issues that I’m not sure would have been brought up or discussed with a provider in a 10-minute session.”
- “People would come to the group tired, anxious, and worried, and every time—without fail, everyone left happy, laughing, and lighter.”
With support from the March of Dimes, the Virtua Women's Center - Lumberton is one of the first healthcare providers in South Jersey to adopt the CenteringPregnancy model.
Our team is excited about everything that Centering Pregnancy stands for. Our nurses take great pride in the care we provide. And, our moms leave the program feeling better informed about their care and in new friendships with other women from the groups. They become one another’s support, and develop connections that go far beyond their pregnancies.
Updated March 15, 2017