Anne Arundel Ob/Gyn offers prenatal care in a group setting

Centering PregnancyBy Betsy Stein

When Jessica Cole of Glen Burnie goes in for her prenatal visits at her ob/gyn, she's not in and out in 15 minutes. She's there for at least two hours, and she loves it.

Cole is part of a new model of care for pregnant women called CenteringPregnancy™ being offered at Baltimore Washington Women's Health Associates, which has several offices throughout Anne Arundel County. The program takes women out of exam rooms and into groups of women with similar due dates for their prenatal care. Each group completes its care together during 10 sessions with a facilitator and provider. The women track the health of their pregnancy and also discuss a variety of educational topics.

"I like this Centering a lot better. It's much more personal," explained Cole, who is due in April and also has a 4-year-old. "We talk about everything and others ask questions that I might not have thought of. It's really informative. I've learned so much even though I have had a baby."


Group prenatal visits

There are currently six women in Cole's group, which is run by nurse midwife Paula Greer. They began meeting once a month for four months and now meet twice a month for two hours each session. Every meeting the women weigh themselves and take their own blood pressure and urine dips, Cole explained. Then they discuss questions and concerns, enjoy healthy snacks and even get prizes and sometimes massages. Each woman also has "tummy time" which is private time with the midwife each session.

"This is not one-stop prenatal care shopping," Greer explained. "There is a synergistic effect to what we are doing so you get a set of value-added services, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's bundling for the mother-to-be!"

CenteringPregnancy™ was piloted in the early 1990s by a nurse midwife, Sharon Schindler Rising. Now there are more than 300 Centering sites in almost all 50 states and some foreign countries. Evidence shows that group support during pregnancy increases birth weight and lowers pre-term deliveries, according to Ann-Marie Sedor, manager of marketing and communications for Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

For details or to sign up for CenteringPregnancy™ call 410-553-8260.

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Washington Medical Center