Imagine expecting a baby and going for pre-natal visit with up 10 other moms and their partners in the room? It’s happening at a Chicago hospital, and surprisingly the parents-to-be love the idea.
The group pre-natal visit is a concept called “centering pregnancy.”
It starts with a quick measure. Then the sound of a healthy heart booms. But at the end of their 35-week ultrasound, Jen and Austin Butler joined five other couples gathered on the other side of a privacy screen.
Ariel Derringer is a certified nurse-midwife with Northwestern Medicine.
“It was introduced by a midwife because she was sick of saying the same thing over and over again, and she thought, ‘Why can’t we just put everyone in one room and say it all to them?’” Derringer said.
And that’s exactly Derringer and Carol Hirschfield, another certified nurse-midwife, do each month – more frequently as their patients’ pregnancies progress. Instead of a typical pre-natal appointment, “Centering” takes a deeper approach.
“What really sold me on the idea was the fact that it wasn’t just a five-minute or 10-minute interaction with a midwife,” Jen Butler said. “It was a two-hour interaction with not only midwives but other women and their partners. And they would bring up questions I probably wouldn’t have thought of.”
The participants arrive early and during each two-hour session, they touch on some basics and the “what ifs” scenarios where the baby might need a little extra attention right after delivery.
“There’s so much more time during Centering to cover topics that we don’t have time for in regular pre-natal care, such as birth control options, depression, breastfeeding, domestic violence, all kinds of things that we touch on,” Hirschfield said.
The rhythm of the group visit is relaxed and as the participants get to know one another, even the more intimate questions come easy.
It’s the same idea for partners.
“As a partner, there’s chances where you can feel disconnected from the pregnancy process,” Austin Butler said. “And it’s nice to be able to talk to other people in the group who are in the partner role to be able to share experiences and support each other.”
“The reason that we do it is it generates a sense of community,” Hirschfield said. “So these women have one another to rely on, to share with, and it really is a way to develop your tribe.”
There’s no cost difference for the Centering visits compared to typical pre-natal care at Northwestern Medicine obstetrics.
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