Pregnancy and you blog

Group prenatal care: Consider the options

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. June 17, 2010

I've been a practicing nurse midwife for more than 25 years. Each of my deliveries is unique, and I'm grateful each time I'm invited to participate in such a special time in people's lives. I'm also continually looking for new research and innovative ideas, including nontraditional ways to provide prenatal care.

In my practice at Mayo Clinic, we offer an option for group prenatal care called Centering Pregnancy. We assemble a group of women who have similar due dates, whether they're having their first baby or their fourth, and then meet regularly throughout pregnancy. Partners are welcome, too.

At each Centering Pregnancy meeting, participants measure their weight and blood pressure. Then each participant gets what we call tummy time — one-on-one time with the nurse midwife or other health care provider — to address any personal questions or concerns, check the baby's growth and listen to the baby's heartbeat. After tummy time, we sit together in a circle. Sometimes there's a prepared topic for the group to discuss, and other times we invite a guest speaker. The primary focus of each meeting, however, is interaction with other participants. It's one thing for me to tell you that your back pain is normal — but it's another thing for four other pregnant women to tell you that their backs hurt, too.

Unlike traditional classes or lectures, group prenatal care helps provide a sense of community among women who have similar issues, problems and fears. After the babies are born, we host a reunion to exchange birth stories, admire each other's babies and share in the joy of the group.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about group prenatal care or other approaches to prenatal care. Please share!

June 17, 2010