Monday, July 12, 2010


Centering is coming to Fort Worth!  No, it's not a yoga pose.   It is actually a method of maternity care.  I hope this post explains the Centering program and you will be as excited as I am.

Centering is typically done by midwives -- at least I haven't heard of any OBs doing it.  In very simple terms, it's group prenatal care.  Often, "patients" have the option of doing their prenatal appointments in this manner where it is offered.  If a woman chooses to "center" she'll be put in a group with other women who are due about the same time or month, depending on the size of the practice. 

The women arrive at the same time at the clinic, birth center, or office.  They will each weigh themselves, as well chart their own blood pressure and do their own "pee stick."  This puts their health care directly in their own hands.  Then, each will have a couple of minutes with the midwife to measure fundal height and listen to the baby. The midwife will typically ask if she has anything she wants to talk about that is too personal for the group.  If not, she goes to the circle and waits for the other women to join the group.

The group usually sits in a circle.  It is not a classroom by any means!  There will usually be a topic, such as the size of the baby, typical pregnancy symptoms, etc.  Your midwife is sitting eye to eye with the group.  This puts her on a different level with her clients.  She has the opportunity to get to know these women in a very different setting than a  provider-patient setting.

Because less than 1/4 of pregnant women take a childbirth class, this also meets a need -- whether they know it or not! -- to become educated on the process of labor and birth.  This is very empowering to have this knowledge.  Many women find that the fears they previously felt about giving birth are replaced with excitement and anticipation.

The group cheers each other on.  They become a resource and support for one another.  The midwife may not know the best place to buy a nursing bra, but I bet someone in the group does!

The appointments run about an hour in length.  94% of women who have centered say they would do it again.  From a business standpoint, this is such a smart model.  It saves the midwife hours in her day.  Centering groups are usually made up of 8-12 women.  From the consumer standpoint, women are not sitting in a waiting room and then only getting their provider's attention for a few minutes each month. 

The UNT Midwives are beginning Centering in August.  There are midwives practicing Centering all over the country, with great success.  I expect we will start seeing more and more of this trend.  It's a good thing and I am grateful it has found its way to Fort Worth!


Kippy said...

I am so excited about this!

Shannon said...

That sounds great! I was going to transfer to them next time I'm prego anyway!!

Rachel said...

the CNMs in my area do that. My friends who used their care really enjoyed it.
I think I'll stick with my homebirth CPMs though.

Donna Ryan said...

Rachel, where do you live? I actually heard about centering from a CPM in Florida that runs a birth center. I think it's great prenatal care no matter where you plan to give birth. So glad it's come to my area.

steph scott said...

This is a great blog - I just discovered it! I belong to a doula collective in austin ( We read about the prenatal centering model & it inspired us to offer group prenatal appointments. It's pretty successful and the clients really enjoy getting to know one another and learning from each other's questions. It seems especially valuable to the dads, as they learn how other dads will be working with a doula. Hopefully more midwives and obs will pick up on this - it's beneficial in so many ways.

Anne B. said...

Recently found your blog, and I'm enjoying reading old posts. I'm a Bradley teacher in Houston. My daughter was born in Seattle, and we did a Centering group with our hospital midwives. We loved it! It was great to have a community of couples going through the same stage of pregnancy as us. We made friends with some and were able to get together for support after the babies were born. I'm so glad to see this model of care is spreading!