For women who are expecting — especially first-time mothers — pregnancy can be a stressful time of questions and unknowns. An innovative approach called CenteringPregnancy® — a model of prenatal care based on a group approach to health care assessment, education and support — has proven highly effective in addressing these concerns and has significantly improved health outcomes for both mothers and babies. Christiana Care Health System is the only birthing facility in Delaware to offer a CenteringPregnancy program.
“We’re committed to guiding women through pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond,” said Elizabeth Zadzielski, M.D., MBA, FACOG, medical director of Women’s Health Ambulatory Services, Division of Education. “CenteringPregnancy is an evidence-based approach that provides expecting moms with direct access to the education and support that they need.”
The program combines prenatal care visits with time to learn with other mothers-to-be.
Research demonstrates that the CenteringPregnancy model increases patient satisfaction, promotes healthy behaviors during pregnancy, decreases rates of preterm and low-birth-weight infants, and increases rates of breastfeeding and immunizations.
Additional benefits include no waiting time for appointments, the opportunity for women to engage with and receive support from their peers, and more time for questions, information and discussion than typical office visits might allow.
The model was first introduced at Christiana Care’s Wilmington Hospital in 2009, where participation in the program remains strong. After a hiatus from Christiana Hospital, the program returned in October 2014 and has quickly gained momentum. Between the two hospitals, there are typically six CenteringPregnancy groups in progress at any given time.
Each group includes 8 to 12 expecting mothers who are at the same stage of pregnancy. They progress together through 10 sessions over the duration of their pregnancies. There is no additional charge for this program, which is open to women receiving obstetrical care in Wilmington Women’s Health Office or Christiana Hospital’s Suite 1900 practice.
“The CenteringPregnancy approach gives women much more time, information and support than they would receive in a traditional obstetric visit,” said Elizabeth S. Sushereba, MSN, CNM, a certified nurse midwife at Christiana Care who helped launch the Centering program in 2009 and currently leads several groups. “Many women are initially unprepared for or uneducated about pregnancy. Centering provides the information they need, delivered in a supportive group environment, and makes them an active part of their prenatal care. It empowers women to guide their own birth experience.”
Upon arrival to each session, women have an individual check-up with their clinician before coming together as a group. The sessions, led by a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife or doctor, features guest speakers such as dietitians, lactation consultants, physical therapists and social workers. Topics include healthy food choices, labor, breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
Shannon Pearson of Smyrna, now a mother of three, participated in Christiana Care’s CenteringPregnancy program twice. “I absolutely loved it,” said Pearson. “I learned so much. For example, I didn’t want to get an epidural because I was scared. Once I understood how it works, it calmed my nerves. We learned about C-sections — just in case. We learned about breastfeeding and even how to make ‘rice socks’ that we could heat up in the microwave to soothe our aching backs. Sometimes there were questions I didn’t think of that other people had. And I met so many new friends. It was a very supportive experience.”
For more information about the CenteringPregnancy program meeting at Christiana Hospital call 302-733-6510. For the program meeting at Wilmington Hospital, call 302-320-4414.