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CenteringPregnancy brings it all together for new mom

Posted: Monday, Oct 8th, 2012


Jessica and Brian Baum of Huron are shown with their son, Tucker, in the gathering room at the Women’s Wellness Center where they met with their Centering-Pregnancy group throughout the pregnancy. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED


When Jessica Baum learned she was pregnant last fall, she chose Dr. Sara Castellanos, Huron’s newest obstetrics and gynecology physician, to assist in the birth her baby.

When Castellanos introduced the idea of CenteringPregnancy for her prenatal care and delivery at her initial prenatal visit, Baum had some questions at first. CenteringPregnancy is a new way for expectant parents to prepare for their baby that is both empowering and supportive. Unlike traditional maternity care, Centering involves a group of up to 10 other pregnant women whose due dates are within about a month of each other. The women get together for 10 two-hour sessions for prenatal care and education versus having traditional individual appointments with their physician, after their first prenatal visit.

“I hadn’t heard of Centering before, so I just wasn’t sure,” said Baum. “I figured we might as well try it — the first session was just the moms and it really was kind of fun.”

During the first session, the five moms in Baum’s group decided to include their support person, which is optional for Centering groups and decided by the moms at their first meeting. At the next session, Baum’s husband Brian joined her. “It actually worked out very well because then Brian had the same information as me when it came to delivery and the whole process,” Baum explained.

“CenteringPregnancy came out of a desire to find a better way to provide health care,” said Castellanos, who introduced Centering to the Huron area when she opened the Women’s Wellness Center in September 2011.

“Programs in other parts of the country have found that the approach leads to fewer preterm deliveries and higher birth weights for babies born early. Additionally, Centering has been shown to increase breastfeeding rates, decrease postpartum depression occurrence, improve knowledge and readiness for birth and parenting, and have higher patient satisfaction with prenatal care received.”

Centering groups meet monthly at first and then bi-weekly later in the pregnancy. “Women get to spend two hours at every visit with their healthcare provider,” Castellanos emphasizes. “And it always starts on time and ends on time. There’s no sitting around in a waiting room.” Much of the education and support comes from the group’s participants. “The bond of going through very similar experiences at about the same time can be very powerful,” Castellanos states. “The group members are tremendously helpful to each other. This approach to healthcare delivery empowers women to take better care of themselves and their families.”

Baum agrees. “You get other people’s ideas and questions that you maybe wouldn’t think of and you feel like you’re not alone because the other parents in the group shared their fears and excitement of becoming new parents,” said Baum. “I also think it gives you more time to get a lot of education, especially as first-time parents, more time than a traditional 20-minute OB/GYN visit.”

At each group visit, participants would weigh-in, measure their blood pressure and talk with the nurse about any concerns. Next, group members would sit in the circle, have a healthy snack and catch up with other members while everyone took turns checking on their baby’s growth and well-being with Castellanos. The group would then talk through various education topics like nutrition, labor and delivery, and discuss other questions together.

“If we needed a special test or exam or had specific question or concern, we simply made a separate appointment,” said Baum. “The group support was great. And even the dads got comfortable and were involved in the conversation.”

Baum and her husband participated in Centering sessions from November through June, when they welcomed their healthy eight-pound 13-ounce baby boy, Tucker, on June 10 at Huron Regional Medical Center. Baum’s group was one of six Centering groups who have or who currently are going through the Centering process since Castellanos began her practice.

“Even though I know all the benefits the research demonstrates, it is a completely different and an awe-inspiring experience to watch the bond that develops and the deep appreciation the group members have for each other as they share the journey of this life-changing experience,” Castellanos observed.

“After Tucker was born, we anxiously awaited news of the other moms’ deliveries because we had formed such a bond,” said Baum. About four to six weeks after their deliveries, Baum’s group got together for a reunion meeting. “It was great to see everyone and their newborns,” said Baum. “Beyond bonding with the other moms, I also liked getting to know Dr. Castellanos and her nurse, Amy, more — it really helped us to build more of a connection with who would deliver our baby.”

Women interested in learning more about CenteringPregnancy and obstetrics and gynecologic care from Castellanos are encouraged to contact the Women’s Wellness Center at 554-1020.

When asked what she would tell other expectant parents considering Centering, Baum said, “Give it a try. It is different, but very beneficial for you and your baby.”

For the complete article see the 10-06-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-06-2012 paper.


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