WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There is a program now being offered for pregnant women that allows them to meet with their doctor face-to-face for two hours.
The mom-to-be doesn't have to ever sit in a waiting room. And she gets to learn from other pregnant moms. It's called Centering.
Inside Lexington Medical Center, Dr. Valerie Skinner meets with her patients. Brittany Hardy is a first time mom-to-be. The doctor checks Brittany's health and listens to the baby's loud and clear heartbeat.
This exam is taking place in a meeting room where numerous moms get together on a regular basis to be more involved in their own care through health assessments, education and support.
The practice of Centering itself has been around for decades, but it's new to Dr. Skinner's practice at Lexington Women's Care after she applied for a gr ant.
"We are empowering them to take care of themselves to learn about themselves and their pregnancies, taking care of themselves, coming for continued care the support that we have here," said Skinner, "not only with the practitioners but with the women they get to know."
The name of the program is based on providing obstetric care in a group setting, but bringing the responsibility to the mom herself and recognizing she is the center of the focus of her well-being and her baby's. There are five facilitators and co-facilitators which are often their nurses or medical assistants who take turns meeting with the moms and dads-to-be.
"And there's research that tells you that when babies have had onions and garlic, and vanilla for some reason, that the first couple times they go crazy because they like that."
One main goal of Centering is to reduce preterm labor and preterm delivery rates, which is very high in South Carolina.
"This has such great benefits," Dr. Skinner said, "not only in reducing preterm labor but we know these ladies have a higher rate of breastfeeding later, lower rates of post-partum depression. Just great, great advantages."
Brittany also finds it advantageous in separating fact from fiction.
"A lot of the things you hear are old wives' tales," Brittany said, "so hearing what's actually true from the doctor -- things that I normally wouldn't have a chance to ask her about. Things like breastfeeding, lactation, actual delivery questions. There are a lot of things that I find out aren't actually true or that I haven't heard before."
In each group meeting, there's the healthcare emphasis - where each patient has their blood pressure taken and is weighed. After that, the doctor listens to the fetal heart rate and learns of any issues or concerns of the patient. Then, there's the educational emphasis - where those questions are addressed in the group setting - something Brittany did not want to do on her own.
Brittany has many questions that wouldn't necessarily be answered. She may be googling it if not in the class. She thinks it's sad that every mom doesn't get a chance to be part of this program.
For Brittany, the toughest part of her pregnancy so far - is coming up with a name for her baby who is due in late April.
Centering follows the same pattern of obstetric care that you would typically receive. So, initially the mom is seen every four
weeks, then it goes to two weeks, and then weekly toward the end of her pregnancy.
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