Centering – a New Option for Mothers-to-Be

By Sonya Harden

Centering – a New Option for Mothers-to-Be

by Sonya Harden, CNM

Centering is an alternative way to receive your prenatal care done in a group setting. The Centering group is your prenatal visit – when you come for your Centering visit, you are seen by the doctor or midwife running the group in a private area of the room. You get all of the same care you would in the office setting, but afterward we sit down with the group to discuss different topics and answer questions. Each visit lasts about two hours.

Expecting mothers come for ten, two hour visits. At your first prenatal visit, we will talk to you about Centering, and you decide if you’d like to participate. Then, you’ll have Centering visits until the end of your pregnancy. At first, visits are every month, and then as you get further along, you’ll come every two weeks and move up to once a week during the last month of pregnancy. If you are still pregnant after the ten visits, you’ll have an office visit one week and the Centering group the next until you deliver.

There is data showing Centering pregnancies have better outcomes, are more successful with breastfeeding and less likely to have a low birth weight baby or preterm delivery (www.centeringhealthcare.org). We believe it’s due to peer support, and moms getting so much more face to face time with their health care provider. Usually we’re done with “tummy time” in the first 45 minutes and the rest of the time is group discussion. For example, I’ve had more success with moms quitting smoking and my moms are much more likely to reach out with emotional problems like depression. Sometimes you might forget the questions you had before you came in, but another mom asks them. Centering is a national program – we have to have specific training, there are strict regulations about the size of the room and everything has to be done in that one space.

Centering normalizes care – you see that everyone’s tummy looks much the same and is having similar experiences – you’ll feel more confident about what you’re going through. We try to have around 10-14 moms in each group. They are invited to bring a significant other or some other support person. Some do, some don’t. Dads in the group are usually bonded by the end of the first session. One grandmother who came to a group knitted everyone baby hats, and another group planned a potluck at the end. We also do a reunion group meeting after everyone delivers – it’s a lot of fun!

About this writer

  • Sonya Harden

    Sonya Harden

    Sonya is a Certified Nurse Midwife with Coastal Carolina OB/GYN, located at 620 Singleton Ridge Road in Conway. For questions about Centering or to make an appointment, call 843-349-0100

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