“The Borgess Women’s Health Centering Pregnancy Program helped me and my husband become even better prepared for our second pregnancy,” said Jennifer Brown of Coldwater. “We had additional time with Megan Deibel, Borgess Certified Nurse-Midwife, and the program allowed us to learn more at the group prenatal session with Megan and eight other expectant mothers.”
Patients like Jennifer are embracing the Borgess Women’s Health “Centering Pregnancy Program,” one of the first programs of its kind in Michigan and a national prenatal health model first conceived by a Yale School of Nursing midwife. It includes group prenatal meetings with Borgess midwives, more time with midwives, pre-scheduled visits during the pregnancy, no waiting the day of appointments, support from others going through the same changes at the same time and much more.
What is Centering Pregnancy?
“We’re changing the way women receive prenatal care,” said Megan Deibel, MSN, CNM, Borgess Women’s Health. “Through this program, prenatal care, childbirth education, and peer support are offered in ten two-hours sessions to eight to 10 women (and partners) who are scheduled to give birth at about the same time. Sessions begin a few weeks after the start of the second pregnancy trimester, typically 16 to 20 weeks from conception.”
“The group dynamics of Centering Pregnancy provide more quality time with expectant mothers and providers, compared to most traditional individual prenatal visit schedules,” said Lisa Adams, Centering Pregnancy/Birthing Family Education Coordinator. “We get to cover important social, behavioral and psychological factors, in addition to other more customary educational elements.
Assessment, education and support are fundamental aspects of each meeting.
”Each session includes checkups, question and answer sessions, group discussions about healthy pregnancy topics, and a chance for everyone to get to know each other,” Adams said. “We ‘Circle Up’ at the end of each session for final thoughts.”
More than 200 women have completed the Centering Pregnancy Program at the Borgess Women’s Health Program since its inception in 2008.
“Couples tell us they enjoy the continuity of the Centering Pregnancy Program,” Adams said. “They never have to wait for group meetings to start and we never cancel a meeting/appointment. The group cohesiveness also helps participants become comfortable with each other,” Adams said. “They ask important questions that may only arise in a warm, group atmosphere.”
“I think patients like the Centering Model of Care model because it brings all of us together without any doors or desks between us,” Deibel said. “We communicate better. When we’re done, we feel like we’ve made friends and have accomplished as much as we possibly can to assure a healthy pregnancy.”
Jennifer Brown has kept in touch with the new friends she made during her Centering Pregnancy Sessions.
“The other women in my group were all younger than me,” Brown said. “However I learned so much from the other participants in this very positive environment that has a sense of community.
“If I saw another woman struggling with some aspect of her pregnancy, we would often talk together,” Brown said. “This helped to make my second pregnancy and birthing experience magical. Typically my cheeks hurt after each session because of the laughter and the information we shared.”
There are provisions for private physical assessments in the Centering Pregnancy Program.
“Patients sometimes have personal problems that need to be addressed,” Deibel said. “In our individual assessment that is a part of each session, women bring topics of concern. These can be handled at that time, but if a lengthier discussion of a more complicated issue is required, that private talk can be postponed until the end of the Centering Pregnancy session. We also provide ample opportunities for participants to anonymously pose questions in the group setting.”
Participants participate in every phase of the sessions.
“Each session begins with personal assessments from the midwife and also with participants recording their weight, blood pressure and the size of their growing abdomen,” Deibel said.
The midwives who lead the sessions have prepared materials, but each session is unique. The group drives the conversation.
“The health professionals who lead the classes are not ‘teachers’ in the traditional sense of the word,” Deibel said. “As group leaders of adults, we begin discussions, offer solutions or direction to content found in traditional childbirth classes, but we want to increase the sense of empowerment inherent in each individual who participates with us. Women may learn as much or more from other women in the group than from us.
“Empowerment, choice and the concept that more is better than less are all elements of the Centering Pregnancy Program at Borgess Women’s Health,” Deibel said. “These ideas are becoming increasingly prominent in many other areas of health care.”
In 2010, the March of Dimes Michigan Chapter awarded the Borgess Foundation a $25,000 Chapter Community Grant to support the Borgess Women’s Health Centering Pregnancy Program. The award helped achieve official site approval by the Centering Healthcare Institute. It also emphasized two other goals that have been achieved: a prematurity rate of less than or equal to 10 percent for program participants and the continuation of breastfeeding for at least half of the program participants through their six-week postpartum follow-up visit.
The Centering Pregnancy Program at Borgess Women’s Health is available to all women with low-risk pregnancies. For more information, call 226.6796 or visit centering.borgess.com.
About Borgess Health
Borgess Health is a health system that offers high quality care in such areas as cardiovascular, neurosciences, orthopedics, vascular surgery, women’s health, primary care, emergency medicine, bariatrics, imaging, and long-term acute care. Borgess Health includes Borgess Medical Center, Borgess-Pipp Hospital, Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, Borgess at Woodbridge Hills, Borgess Visiting Nurse & Hospice, Borgess VNA Home Health & Hospice (now part of Reverence Home Health & Hospice), Borgess Staffing Solutions, Borgess Health & Fitness Center, Borgess Gardens and many additional owned or affiliated services. The 123-year-old health ministry serves residents of 10 counties. It is one of the area’s largest health care providers and also is one of the largest employers. Borgess Health is a member of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.