Newsday Tuesday – Creating Community Support When You’re Pregnant

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January 7, 2014

We have so much to talk about when we’re pregnant – what’s okay to eat, how do you sleep, and is it really normal to feel like this? Many of us rely on blogs or social media, or find advice from hundreds of books and magazines, or turn to friends and family.

However, family and friends may not quite remember or be up to date on latest practices; online advice isn’t always accurate; and doctors, nurses, and midwives are excellent resources, but time with them is often limited and check-ups lack what could otherwise be a helpful element in navigating a pregnancy: a sense of community.

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Imagine many women sharing their appointment times, allowing not only for typical aspects of an appointment – listening to the baby’s heartbeat, checking blood pressure – but also for interaction with others in similar situations. It’s the best of social networking, coffee with a trusted friend and proper medical care all combined!

Centering is the term used for care centered on the patient in a group setting, and the idea was devised in the mid-1970s by Sharon Rising, a nurse-midwife from Waterbury, Connecticut. Rising saw the need for good care in three parts: the checkup, interactive learning (being able to discuss concerns), and social support (both giving and receiving).

A randomized controlled trial of more than 1,000 mothers found dramatic results from the effects of Centering. Participants were 33 percent less likely to have a premature birth than women with traditional prenatal care, an effect even more dramatic for African-American women (41 percent), who are already twice as likely to have a pre-term birth than white women. Women involved in Centering also had fewer C-sections, breastfed more, and felt better prepared to become mothers.

With an increase on the focus of social support and interactive learning, Centering seems to improve satisfaction with patients and doctors alike.  We love the idea!

Take Action Challenge

Read the full NY Times opinion article and let us know what you think. Would you appreciate a community setting for your prenatal checkups? Tell us on our Facebook page.

Image: iStock.com

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