Pregnancy as a Collaborative Experience

. November 30, 2019.
Expectant parents engaging during a CenteringPregnancy® meeting. Photo credit: Brian McCullough
Expectant parents engaging during a CenteringPregnancy® meeting. Photo credit: Brian McCullough

CenteringPregnancy program offered to expectant Washtenaw County mothers

Many expectant mothers are hopeful their pregnancy will be enjoyable, even fun, as they bond with their babies in utero. They envision new friendships with fellow expectant mothers, laughing and sharing this intimate and life-altering experience.

This dream becomes a reality with the nationwide CenteringPregnancy® program.

History of CenteringPregnancy

An idea was born in the 1990s when Sharon Rising of the Centering® Healthcare Institute created a program to bring pregnant women together during their prenatal visits. Through monthly meetings, women can share their expectations, fears, and questions with other expectant women under the guidance of a health care provider.

Centering programs are now offered in 46 states with 70,000 patients served annually at over 575 sites.

Michigan Medicine’s adoption of the program

The program was brought to Michigan Medicine by Katherine Pasque MD and Melisa Scott CNM (Certified Nurse-Midwife) about a year and a half ago. Starting with one group, the program has now expanded to seven and is expected to continue growing.

After an initial individual meeting with their primary care provider, a group of six to twelve women, with due dates within four weeks of each other, hold monthly two-hour meetings. As their due dates approach, the meetings become bi-weekly. Scott shares, “I really get to know everyone well by spending two hours a month with them instead of the traditional 15-20 minutes.”

Centering programs replace standard care. During meetings, women check their own weight and vitals, share snacks and discussion, and may be taken individually to a screened-off area so individual concerns can be addressed.

The atmosphere of the group is relaxed and comfortable, inviting questions and conversation. Often, community members are brought in to provide guidance based upon the women’s interests, such as yoga techniques, car seat safety, safe sleep, and lactation advice.

Scott shares that about 50 percent of the mothers participating are not first-time mothers. “Having been pregnant before, these women recognize the benefits of having a support group. I love watching the relationships form. They are so supportive and empathetic of one another. As a mom, I know how valuable that mom-to-mom support is.”

Evidence-based results

Scott was initially drawn to the program as “the health outcomes are undeniable and it’s a fun, connected way to experience pregnancy.”

According to the Centering® Healthcare Institute, “Centering demonstrates improved outcomes including a 33-47 percent decreased risk of preterm birth, a flattening of health disparities between black and white women, better visit attendance, greater readiness for birth and infant care, improved breastfeeding rates and higher patient satisfaction scores.”

Join the collaboration

The CenteringPregnancy program is currently offered at Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and the Briarwood Center for Women, Children and Young Adults. The program has no extra cost and is covered by all insurance companies. Currently, there is no waiting list for the program.

For more information about the CenteringPregnancy program offered by Michigan Medicine, visit umwomenshealth.org or call 734-232-2600.