By Mary-Powel Thomas, Healthy Start Brooklyn
What’s the worst thing about pregnancy? Morning sickness, swollen feet, weird cravings, unusual aches and pains? Perhaps, but many women also hate spending an hour or more in the waiting room for only a few minutes with their doctor or midwife.
Fortunately, there’s now a solution to that in North and Central Brooklyn. Women who have their prenatal appointments in a CenteringPregnancy group don’t have to wait at all. Their appointment starts and ends at a set time, so they know exactly how long they will be at the clinic. Not only that, but they get to spend two hours with their provider at every appointment.
How is that possible? CenteringPregnancy brings together 6 to 10 women who are all due around the same time, and they have their appointments in a group, with a doctor or midwife and another staff member. With support from Healthy Start Brooklyn, three local prenatal clinics now offer CenteringPregnancy: Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.
The beginning of each group appointment is social time. The pregnant women enjoy refreshments and share stories. They take their own blood pressure and record it in a Centering notebook, which helps them take charge of their own health. Each woman also has an individual check-in with the midwife or doctor.
After all the check-ins, the group conversation begins. Each session covers things women want to know about: body changes in pregnancy, managing stress, what birth is really like, healthy eating for two, watching for postpartum depression, adapting to your new baby, and more.
The women learn from each other as well as from the group leaders, and they enjoy going through the phases of pregnancy with other women. Partners and other support people are always welcome, though children do not attend. The sessions are very predictable: start to finish in two hours, with no long waits for a provider who’s running behind.
Not only are the group appointments pleasant, researchers have found that they result in healthier babies on average. Women in CenteringPregnancy are less likely to have a preterm baby or one that has to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and more likely to breastfeed, which is healthier for the baby. They have also told researchers that they felt more ready for labor and delivery and were happier with their prenatal care, and they are more likely to come to all their medical visits.
So what’s not to like? If you are pregnant or know someone who is, find out more about CenteringPregnancy or make an appointment by calling:
• Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center: 718-636-6655 or 718-636-6647
1456 Fulton Street, between Brooklyn and Kingston Avenues
• Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center: 718-240-5977 or 718-240-5978
on Rockaway Parkway at Linden Boulevard
• Wyckoff Heights Medical Center: 718-486-4155
1610 DeKalb Avenue at Wyckoff Avenue
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