Typically, a pregnant woman sees her provider for one-on-one appointments during her pregnancy. In Group Prenatal Care, or Centering Pregnancy, a group of 8-10 women due at the same time see their provider privately for an exam but then gather together to learn about various pregnancy related topics. Those topics may include nutrition, common pregnancy symptoms, breast feeding and infant care.
Surprisingly, this unique method allows pregnant moms to spend more time with their providers. The extra time allows them to get more comfortable with each other and get to know each other better. Here are some additional benefits:
- Better Health Outcomes – Centering moms have healthier babies and centering nearly eliminates racial disparities in preterm birth.
- Self-Care – Moms are more actively engaged in their own healthcare and their own health information.
- Self-Confidence -Centering moms are better prepared for labor, delivery and to care for their infant.
- More Time with the Provider – Centering moms spend 10x more time with their doctors or nurse practitioners than in traditional care.
- Support and Friendship – Women enjoy being with other women who are going through a similar experience, giving them an opportunity to support each other. Centering moms create lasting friendships and are wonderful resources to one another during a very exciting but also stressful time in their lives.
- Learning and Fun – The most common word used to describe centering is fun! Centering is based on the proven principle that when people are actively engaged and involved in a discussion with their peers, rather than being lectured or given a pamphlet, they will have greater understanding and are more likely to change their behavior. (Centering Healthcare Institute Inc., 2018)
Moms seem to especially benefit from the social support gained by sharing the pregnancy and birth experiences with other women. That support can also be extremely helpful in groups of moms with the same chronic condition such as HIV, diabetes, and cancer. Some of the other things they appreciate are long term scheduling, fewer wait times and the long-term bonds they form during pregnancy with other moms in their group (ACOG, 2018).
We’ve talked about racial disparities in previous blogs but as a reminder, they are defined as differences in the quality of care received by minorities vs. non-minorities (Institute of Medicine, 2002). Research shows that group prenatal care is especially effective in groups who face these disparities in healthcare, especially African American women.
For providers, it can be a challenge to implement group prenatal care within a medical practice. All staff must receive training from the Centering Healthcare Institute, and there must be adequate meeting space within the office, patient supplies for group meetings, etc. This type of care can be more expensive for a provider and many times increased reimbursement is not available. However, there are grants available to help with implementation costs. Despite the challenges, there are many positive outcomes from group prenatal care, especially for those women who need additional support during pregnancy.