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During my first pregnancy I choose to participate in CenteringPregnancy® Group Prenatal Care. Initially I opted for Centering appointments because groups met in the evenings, which nicely accommodated our household schedule. Ease of scheduling was just one of the many benefits of this model of prenatal care. In fact, based on my experience I think Centering Group Prenatal Care is an option all first time moms should consider if available through their healthcare provider.
The Centering Healthcare Institute describes CenteringPregnancy® Group Prenatal Care as, “a multifaceted model of group care that integrates the three major components of care: health assessment, education, and support, into a unified program within a group setting.” My Centering appointments were at Harvard Vanguard’s Kenmore location in Boston, Massachusetts. I was put into a Centering Group of nine other pregnant women and we were due within a month of each other. Ten of our individual prenatal checkups were paired with Centering meetings led by a midwife and nurse.
Each Centering meeting followed this routine:
- Health Recordings: At the first Centering meeting we learned how to properly take and record our blood pressure and weight in our Centering notebook. From then on we did this ourselves upon arriving at Centering.
- Social Time: As people gathered we had snacks and time to chat. This led into some kind of ice breaker activity.
- Education: Each meeting an expert gave a talk on various pregnancy/infant care topics: prenatal nutrition, exercises & stretching, prenatal massage, healthy family relationships, labor & recovery, breastfeeding, infant care, etc.
- Individual Check Up: We each took turns stepping out of the meeting to have our individual “belly checks” with our midwife. She would look over my blood pressure and weight in my Centering notebooks, measure my fundal height, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, which were then recorded in my Centering notebook. We would discuss how I felt about my pregnancy and addressed my questions and concerns.
- Large/Small Group Discussion: Throughout the various activities and talks we always had time for group discussion focused on the meeting’s topic and how we were doing with our pregnancies.
I’m a collaborative person. I do best in environments where I have others to work with and learn along side, which made the Centering Group Prenatal Care a perfect fit. It was wonderful having a group of women to walk through pregnancy with. Actually there was also a baby boom at my church and some of my girlfriends were due around the same time as me. Being pregnant in community with others made a world of difference to me as a first time mom.
My Centering group was a diverse one. Some were set on breastfeeding, some weren’t sure. Some were headed back to work after their maternity leave, some planned to stay home. Some were married, some were single, and others had committed partners. We all had something unique to contribute and were supportive of each other. Trust and confidentiality were very important part of Centering. I felt like I was surrounded by comrades.
As a first time mom the education, quality of care, and support I received at Centering was priceless. My time in CenteringPregnancy® group prenatal care sent me into motherhood feeling blessed, informed, and prepared. This unique model of prenatal care is one all expecting mothers, especially first time moms, should consider.
What do you look for when selecting a health care provider? Veteran moms, how was your experience with prenatal care?