Centering Pregnancy Offers New Approach to Prenatal Care in New Facilities
FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Affording patients the highest standard of care, while making patient overall well-being a top priority, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital offers an alternative model of prenatal care for mothers-to-be, called Centering Pregnancy.
Centering Pregnancy meetings provide health assessment, education and support in a group setting facilitated by a clinician. This community approach to care allows expectant parents to receive conventional obstetrics care and additional services such as lactation consulting and nutrition guidance – all in one setting.
“The best thing about Centering Pregnancy is it increases a patient’s access to care, as well as increase the quality of care they receive,” said Navy Cmdr. Kim Shaughnessy, chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at FBCH, and a certified midwife.
Each centering group enrolls 10 to 12 women with similar due dates, Shaughnessy said. The groups meet every four weeks until around 28 weeks gestational age, and then groups meet every two weeks. Held in newly updated facilities, each meeting lasts around two hours and includes instruction and medical care such as recommended immunizations and fetal monitoring.
“When you compare traditional one-on-one prenatal visits that are 20 minutes to the time we spend in each centering group, this gives women more time with their provider,” said Army Maj. Sabrina Bowers, a certified nurse midwife. “Women are more engaged in their care by taking and documenting their own vital signs. Also, our patient population is often away from family and may not have an established support system here. Centering provides an avenue toward developing lasting friendships. Being with others who are going through a similar experience provides an opportunity for support.”
Socialization is a main factor in many patients decision to choose centering over traditional care, according to many of the current participants here.
“We had just PCS’d here,” said Elizabeth Bossey, who is due this month with her first child. “Many of our friends have children who are older, or have chosen to remain childless. It’s hard to talk with them about pregnancy when they’re at a completely different place in their life. This group has given us a group of friends where we’re all on the same page. Everyone understands and can relate. That is so helpful.”
Army Pfc. Wendy Davis, an operating room tech at FBCH and new centering participant, agreed.
“It’s important to have someone who understands what you’re going through,” she said. “Seeing the stages of pregnancy so far has been wonderful, and having people to share it with will be so nice.”
While the social effects of the program are undeniable, some of the biggest benefits are rooted in the health and well-being of mother and baby, Shaughnessy said.
“Compared with traditional maternity care, centering is by far and away my favorite way to provide care,” Shaughnessy said. “The use of it has been shown to reduce unnecessary medical interventions during delivery and help in developing positive parenting skills. Centering is scientifically and evidentially proven to be beneficial for our patients, and to produce the best outcomes in their care.”
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