Like many women expecting a child, Amy had many unanswered questions. Although her family provided a strong support system, she thought how beneficial it would be to connect with other mothers-to-be who were experiencing similar physical and emotional changes.
When Dr. Gayle Richmond, a highly esteemed obstetrician and founder of Carolina OB/GYN, suggested Centering Pregnancy, Amy was ecstatic. Dr. Richmond, a mother of five, understands pregnancy from a woman’s standpoint. “I founded my practice based on the principle of compassionate care for women, by women. Few medical services are as intimate as obstetrics/gynecology, and in my opinion, no one understands a woman’s body better than a woman.”
Why Centering Pregnancy?
Dr. Richmond, considered a pioneer in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, founded Carolina OB/GYN in 1988 and introduced Centering Pregnancy to this area in 2013. “Studies indicated that Centering Pregnancy could reduce the rate of pre-term births and low birth weights. This has traditionally been a problem in the south. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ranks South Carolina fifth in the nation for low birth weights and seventh in the nation for pre-term births,” said Dr. Richmond.
What is Centering Pregnancy?
Centering Pregnancy is a model of care that provides enhanced education, support and health care for a group of women who are due to have babies at the same time. The visit schedule and content follow nationally recognized guidelines with flexibility and time to explore health and wellness topics that fit the group’s needs.
While the first visit is the same as traditional prenatal care–a physical and risk assessment–expectant mothers meet as a group during eight two-hour sessions held every three weeks. Sessions are held at Carolina OB/GYN’s office in Murrells Inlet and include guest speakers who are experts on topics that may include lactation, chiropractic care, yoga and labor and delivery.
“Sessions are tailored to the wants and needs of each Centering group,” said Jess Bentley, a certified nurse midwife who leads Carolina OB/GYN’s Centering program.
“Centering is a way for expectant moms and partners to bond, share fears, concerns, advice and even a few laughs as they prepare to welcome a new baby into their own family. It also helps women stay engaged in the medical aspects of their pregnancy as they help track their weight, blood pressure, and development throughout the nine-month journey,” Bentley continued.
Centering Pregnancy is one of today’s best examples of patient-centered care. Women get to know all their physicians and providers. There are no surprises or new introductions at the time of delivery. Care is delivered as a team. The support and friendship among group members often continue after the babies are born. Some groups meet for coffee and even plan reunions.
“Participation is voluntary, and women may choose to transition to traditional prenatal care at any point during the program. That seldom happens. Our satisfaction rate is very high, and many of our Centering participants choose Centering for their second, third or even fourth child. That’s a true testimonial to the program,” she said.
“Along with better birth outcomes, Centering has been credited with higher rates of breastfeeding, lower NICU admission rates, and increased family planning. The more involved and informed they are, the better the outcomes for both mom and baby,” concluded Dr. Richmond. To date, more than 600 women have participated in Carolina OB/GYN’s Centering Pregnancy Program.