After the first hour the group comes together to discuss questions and draw support from one another. While Dr. Levin may jumpstart the conversation, most often he listens to the women's discussion. Dr. Levin is available to answer questions that come up during group time and stays after to answer any other questions.
Already Dr. Levin, whose group has spring delivery dates, has been amazed by how much his patients have embraced centering. "I was nervous about how it would go," explains Dr. Levin of his diverse group, which includes women ages 19 to 42, from highly educated to just out of high school. "I was worried that they wouldn't bond, but they did—supporting each other, even crying together."
Benefits of Centering
Centering allows healthcare providers to give patients more complete care—from health concerns to community support. Dr. Barr points out that the normal 15-minute office visits during prenatal care can be very constraining. With centering, the two-hour sessions are scheduled well in advance. Patients never have to wait, and sessions start and end on time. For the women, all of their time is spent actively evaluating what's going on medically with their pregnancies and emotionally with their needs—plus their provider is on hand the entire time.
Beyond easing timing concerns, Rising points out that centering offers clear health benefits for low-risk pregnancies to both the baby and mother. In initial studies reported by Rising in the spring 2006 issue of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, women who participated in group prenatal care in public health clinics had less occurrences of preterm labor. Additionally, more women in the centering care group delivered their babies at full-term, and their babies had higher birth weights. Women who received group care made fewer phone calls to their providers, had fewer emergency visits, and reported feeling more confident about labor and caring for their newborns.