Sensitivity, care, education create supportive pregnancy, childbirth experience

Mom is the center of a baby’s life, but moms-to-be are finding support in their own "Centering" groups at two UNT Health locations in Tarrant County. UNT Health’s certified nurse-midwives launched Centering Pregnancy – the first such program in Fort Worth – two years ago to give expectant mothers a community and resource to answer myriad questions that may not surface during a five-minute doctor visit. Centering combines regular check-ups, prenatal education and discussions in a single visit with other pregnant women. The goal is to improve pre-term labor rates and satisfaction during the entire childbirth experience.

Certified nurse-midwives must complete specialized training through the Centering Healthcare Institute. Research shows both the patient and the provider report greater satisfaction – as well as patient outcomes – when Centering is used, said Kathleen Donaldson, certified nurse midwife and director of advanced practice professionals for UNT Health‘s OB/Gyn department.

"Centering may well replace traditional prenatal classes," Donaldson said. "It relies on an evidence-based redesign of health care delivery that incorporates assessment, education and support."

Women in the Centering program meet individually with their personal physician for their regular medical visit, and then join a group of eight to 12 other women to discuss set topics and learn from experts such as dieticians and lactation consultants. The patient’s partner is welcome to attend. The Centering visit, including the regular patient visit, usually runs 90-120 minutes, Donaldson said. Women are grouped by expected delivery dates so participants can share experiences and insights.

"You don’t have to be a first-time parent to benefit from the Centering experience," said Elizabeth Marshall, who recently went through UNT Health’s Centering program during her pregnancy. "We had a mother on her seventh pregnancy show up to every meeting and she would talk about learning new things from the discussions we had. During those meetings you discuss pregnancy myths, delivery options and breastfeeding experiences, and everything in between. You can have the security and confidence to broach any topic and not be afraid of sounding silly.

"As first-time parents, my husband and I initially started with an OB physician, and we felt like we weren’t getting the kind of sensitivity and care that we needed," Marshall continued. "A coworker suggested the UNT Health Midwife Group, saying their philosophies for prenatal care were about empowering the mother and involving the father. We really responded to this approach after a meet-and-greet at the office and knew we were in the right place."


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