This fall, eight pregnant women, some with their partners, arrived for their first prenatal visit, held in a group setting at Samaritan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Corvallis. Instead of an exam room, the “visit” was held in a bright, cheery classroom with a wall-sized mural of poppies to one side and a circle of chairs for the women to get comfortable in as they learned more about this new group prenatal visit option they’d signed up for.
With group visits — known as Centering Pregnancy —lasting about two hours, women have more time with their care teams and can benefit from the experiences and support of other women in their group.
The Centering group prenatal visits bring eight to 12 women, who are due around the same time, together for their prenatal care. Centering is an innovative, proven model of group care that effectively addresses the complexities of each woman’s life, health and well-being — and that of her unborn baby.
“Benefits of Centering include better health outcomes, more self-confidence for moms about labor, delivery and infant care, the support and friendship of other women who are going through a similar experience, and the group visits are engaging and fun,” said Certified Nurse Midwife Emily Zeno Yeast, who was instrumental in bringing this program to Samaritan Obstetrics & Gynecology. “As a midwife, one of the benefits I appreciate most is that the mothers involved really become more engaged in their own self-care. They are aware of their own health and what they can do to stay healthy and have a healthy baby.”
At the beginning of each session, moms record their own weight and blood pressure, and then there is a brief private time with their provider for a belly check.
Once health assessments are complete, the midwife and support staff "circle-up" with the moms and lead discussions and activities designed to address important and timely health topics, while leaving room to talk about what is important to the group. Centering materials help moms and midwives ensure that everything from nutrition, common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and infant care are covered in the group.
“I am very encouraged by what I am seeing in the group,” Yeast said after the first few group prenatal visits. “Everyone is very friendly and excited to be there and there is a lot of discussion and engagement. I feel I already know more about these women than I typically know by the end of someone’s pregnancy.”
Generous funding from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, the Isabelle Siracusa Bernier and Paul Emile Bernier Endowment and the Women Investing in Samaritan Health giving circle has made this program possible.
“We’re thrilled that we have received so much support to bring this program to our community,” Yeast said. “All of our midwives and physicians are looking forward to offering this option as another way each woman can plan an individualized birthing experience that works for her.”