Quad Cities, IL/IA

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CenteringPregnancy® A New Trend in Prenatal Care


Last summer The Group in Davenport started a new program called CenteringPregnancy®. CenteringPregnancy is a multifaceted model of group care that integrates the three major components of care: medical assessment, patient education, and support, into a unified program within a group setting. CenteringPregnancy is a way for you to share learning and experiences with other pregnant women and to be involved in your own care. The concept makes it comfortable for expectant moms, to learn about what to expect and the changes their bodies are going through from medical professionals as well as other expectant moms who have maybe gone through this.

I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of their recent meetings to see what it was about. I entered the room to see seven expectant moms and a few of their partners seated in a circle sharing what they had been experiencing in the last couple of weeks with Amy Brammann, the nurse leading the session. The group starts with eight to 12 women with similar due dates that meet every four weeks for approximately 90 minutes. The women arrive to The Group, located in their new building on 53rd and Eastern, and start taking their weight and blood pressure, then they take turns visiting with the midwife or doctor to get individual assessments and ask any private questions they may have. After that, the expectant moms and dads along with the clinician engage together in a facilitated discussion around important health topics. In this group setting, there is more time for women to explore the issues that impact their health. Women experience greater learning, feel better prepared for labor, birth, and infant care, gain friendship and support in the group, and have overall greater satisfaction.

CenteringPregnancy groups provide a dynamic atmosphere for learning and sharing that is impossible to create in a one-to-one encounter. Hearing other women share concerns that mirror their own, helps the woman to normalize the whole experience of pregnancy. Groups also are empowering as they provide support to the members and increase individual motivation to learn and change. Professionals report that groups, such as CenteringPregnancy, provide them with renewed satisfaction in delivering quality care.

While I was listening to their discussions, it was amazing to see the bond the women have developed over the last several months. This particular group has been meeting since January, and all but one are first time moms. The group goes over a curriculum each visit to make sure they are covering all of the important topics. CenteringPregnancy also gives the women valuable resources that are available in the community, which otherwise first time or even experienced moms might not be aware of. These moms are able to form a social support network with other women experiencing some of the same things, good and bad. After their classes are finished and they have all delivered their babies, they will celebrate by having a “Post Partum Party.” Everyone involved thinks this is a great experience. These moms get to continue bonding with other women in similar stages in life and build lasting supportive friendships, which will continue to benefit them in the many stages of starting a family. The staff has only positive things to say about the group experience and the moms- and dads-to-be love coming.

The Group is made up of seven physicians who work together to provide comprehensive care during your pregnancy. All of the physicians are board certified or board eligible OB/GYN’s that have completed four years of medical school training with an additional four years or more of residency training. They also have five wonderful midwives. A certified nurse midwife is a registered nurse who has completed additional training to become board certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives. Midwives are an excellent choice for those patients who do not have medical complications that may affect the pregnancy. In keeping with The Group model, should there be a complication during pregnancy or delivery, the midwife works hand in hand with the physician group to provide the most optimal outcome.

CenteringPregnancy and Genesis BirthCenter Enhance Birthing Experience
Lindsey Greer looked quite at ease as she rocked her newborn son, Caleb, in her room at the Genesis BirthCenter in Davenport, surrounded by her family.

After all, it was the second time she had delivered at the BirthCenter. She chose to travel a longer distance from her home in Muscatine, Iowa, to return to the place she could trust for safe, comfortable care and a welcoming family environment.

Her daughter, Kaylee, 4, was at her side to proudly kiss the top of her new brother’s head. Husband, Chass, brought in lunch for his daughter and looked forward to taking his newly expanded family home that day. Caleb was born January 18th, 2015, and his new family was having a good time getting to know him at the newly renovated BirthCenter.

“We’re from Muscatine, but I felt it was worth the drive to come to the Genesis BirthCenter,” she said. “I had such a great experience my first time at BirthCenter and with the certified nurse midwives at The Group. I knew I wanted to deliver again at Genesis. The staff is very caring and knowledgeable and helps you feel at ease. It has been a fabulous experience.”

In the weeks leading up to her delivery, she also felt at ease thanks to the support of her fellow “January Moms” – a group of pregnant women due to give birth that month and among the first to experience an innovative form of prenatal care at The Group called “CenteringPregnancy.”

CenteringPregnancy offers prenatal visits in a group setting with other pregnant women and a midwife or doctor. During their visits, moms-to-be have a private check-up, and then gather for a group-led discussion with a provider to share ideas and learn how to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Centering brings together three components of prenatal care: the medical assessment, patient education, and support from one another.

“I liked that the appointments weren’t hurried, and you had plenty of time to ask questions, get tips, and hear the experiences of other mothers,” Greer said. “Everyone is bouncing ideas off one another, and you think, ‘That might work for me.’ ”

Greer’s group was led by certified nurse midwife Jenny Atzen, who was also at Caleb’s delivery. The Group in Davenport launched the CenteringPregnancy program last summer, with the help of a grant from the March of Dimes. Women who are pregnant for the first time can gain knowledge from experienced moms. Each centering session focuses on a new topic related to pregnancy, labor and delivery, or postpartum care.

Women participating in CenteringPregnancy find it very reassuring to have contact with other women who are going through the same stage of pregnancy. Many times, discussion topics will hit on questions that may feel too intimidating to ask during a traditional, one-on-one visit. Women in the group who are already parents share their tips on childbirth and parenting.

“The centering groups take the place of normal, routine OB visits,” Atzen said. “Instead of a 10-minute office visit, you get about 90 minutes in a group setting. Before each session, we do individual, private check-ups, and this gives patients the opportunity to ask personal questions they don’t want to ask in a group. We have nine sessions over the course of a pregnancy. In each group, we like to have a mix of women who have given birth and those who will be first-time moms.”

Topics can range from breastfeeding and pregnancy discomforts to labor, delivery, and postpartum care. After the month they give birth, the new moms get together again with their babies for a reunion of sorts. Studies show CenteringPregnancy improves birthing outcomes.

“The goal is better, more consistent prenatal care and a reduction in pre-term deliveries,” Atzen said. “Because they are receiving more education during their visits, our patients have a better idea of what’s normal and what’s not.”

Atzen added, “We definitely build a stronger connection with our patients because we get to spend more time getting to know them. I had six women in my first centering group, and it was very rewarding to be on-call for the deliveries of four of them.”

Although Caleb was born full-term and healthy, Lindsey Greer also appreciated knowing that Genesis Medical Center, Davenport, has a Neonatal Intensive Care staffed on a daily basis by neonatologists from the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

“I liked knowing that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was only a floor away, instead of in a different city,” she said. “I would definitely recommend the Genesis BirthCenter.” — By Linda Barlow, Genesis

Whether you come in for your obstetrical needs or gynecology concerns, from adolescence through menopause, The Group looks forward to seeing you at 53rd St. and Eastern Ave. in Davenport! Please call us at 563-355-1853 to schedule a tour.