CenteringPregnancy empowers women with high-risk pregnancies

By Elizabeth Adams

With pillows propped behind their backs and workbooks in hand, a group of women in their third trimesters of pregnancy gathered at UK HealthCare’s Polk Dalton Clinic. They took turns meeting privately with a midwife. They chatted about baby movements with nurses, who measured their blood pressures. Then they formed a circle to discuss topics such as signs of labor, benefits of breastfeeding and how many diapers they’ll go through in one day after the baby is born.

EMPOWRing Women
The CenteringPregnancy program, a combined support group and prenatal appointment for women with high-risk pregnancies, fulfills the Strong Start grant awarded to UK HealthCare for its Efforts to Maximize Prenatal Outcomes in Women at Risk (EMPOWR) model of care. UK HealthCare was one of 27 organizations in the nation awarded funding from the Center for Medicaid Services for high-risk pregnancy intervention programs in 2013.

Through the CenteringPregnancy program, women are grouped by due date and risk factors, meeting a total of 10 times through the course of their pregnancies. The program is designed to help women modify behaviors that lead to adverse prenatal outcomes, such as tobacco use, diabetes, depression and other obstetric risk factors. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to eliminate barriers of access to quality prenatal healthcare and reduce the incidence of preterm births across Kentucky. The program is available to women qualifying for Medicaid services.

A Decision Made
Program participant Claudine Brigaine briefly left her group at the Polk Dalton clinic after a co-worker recommended she seek pregnancy care elsewhere. Brigaine returned to UK because she was missing personal connections with providers and the sense of community she found through the CenteringPregnancy program. She also appreciated the opportunity to share her experiences and learn from other pregnant women in her group. “I decided to come back home,” Brigaine said. “It’s nice because sometimes you have confusion or pain, and you realize it’s normal – you are not by yourself.”

Nancy Jennings, a registered nurse, facilitates groups of women that meet at the Polk Dalton Clinic and UK’s Good Samaritan Hospital. Currently, more than 120 women are enrolled in CenteringPregnancy groups that meet through UK. Each session begins with a health assessment and meeting with the provider, followed by CenteringPregnancy  curriculum and a discussion of EMPOWR principles relevant to the group, which could include a healthy diet, smoking cessation or strategies to decrease stress.

“Sometimes people go through a pregnancy and have needs and concerns that in a traditional care setting don’t have time to be addressed,” Jennings said. “These women have 20 hours of face-to-face time with their prenatal care team during the pregnancy; in a traditional care setting, you might get 10 minutes per visit.” The Strong Start grant also funds CenteringPregnancy programs at affiliated clinics in Frankfort and Morehead.

Elizabeth Adams is an information specialist for UK HealthCare. This article first appeared in UKNow.