By Kelly Youngblood
Pregnant women in the Champaign-Urbana area will have more prenatal care options soon, thanks to a grant from the March of Dimes and the vision of the Carle midwifery practice.
A Centering Pregnancy program, the first of its kind in downstate Illinois, will be offered to patients of Carle midwives. The program is set to begin this summer.
Centering is a prenatal care model that integrates a physical exam with a group meeting. The meetings, which are facilitated by midwives and nurses, are for expectant moms around the same gestational age to discuss various prenatal topics.
“Centering is a very interesting, innovative program,” said Ellen Solis, a certified nurse midwife at Carle. “It’s really different than your typical doctor visit when you sit and talk for 10 minutes and then go home.”
Solis said research shows centering helps improve outcomes for both the mother and the baby including decreases in low birth weight, preterm labor and preterm birth.
“Research is really clear that centering benefits everybody in the group,” Solis said. “It just sort of increases the support system that people have during this really important time of their lives.”
Patients who choose to participate in the new centering program will see their midwife at the beginning of each meeting for a private physical assessment and then stay for a discussion on prenatal topics. Solis expects the meetings to run about an hour.
Meetings will be held once a month and typically in the evenings, outside of office hours. Partners are encouraged to attend.
Ultrasounds will be scheduled separately.
As the midwives and their patients become comfortable with centering, Solis hopes the program will expand and grow to meet more families’ needs.
Centering is just one of the ways the Mother and Baby Unit at Carle is trying to accommodate families.
Many of the once-progressive birthing options mothers-to-be asked for can now be part of most women’s birth plan, including babies staying in the room instead of a nursery and pediatricians doing in-room exams.
The Centering Program was made possible due to grant funds as well as the availability of a larger space.
The midwifery practice recently moved from the South Clinic to the hospital’s fourth floor.