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Preparation for Baby…And So Much More

Gazing into his parents’ faces, three-month-old Grant Weyers wrinkles up his tiny mouth into a pout before cracking a smile that would melt even the coldest heart.

First time parents Erin and Scott Weyers laugh as their son with a little head full of thick hair finally responds to the funny faces, songs and cuddling with a winning grin.

Being parents is all that they hoped it would be, the Sioux Falls couple says. And they know that CenteringPregnancy was great preparation for this new chapter in their life.

“I had read books and done research, but the CenteringPregnancy sessions were the best kind of education we could have asked for,” says Erin, gently rubbing Grant’s head. “There’s nothing like learning from other women’s experiences.”

Something new

The couple had just moved to Sioux Falls in January of 2012, when they learned that Erin was pregnant. They were excited, but a bit concerned, since they had few connections to the community and Erin hadn’t even selected her doctor yet.

A colleague recommended OBGYN Dr. Jeanne Hassebroek-Johnson, who suggested CenteringPregnancy prenatal sessions for the couple. The program, the first of its kind in South Dakota, brings together women with similar due dates to share educational programs and build a community of support.

The women, and sometimes their partners, meet for two-hour sessions, 10 times throughout pregnancy, learning not only from their medical caregivers, but each other. Dr. Hassebroek-Johnson knew that the couple would likely enjoy and benefit greatly from the experience.

“With a routine OBGYN visit, you might get 15 minutes with a patient,” says the doctor. “As a doctor I love the fact that we’re able to give patients every piece of information about pregnancy we want for prenatal care, but we also address what is of interest to the group.”

Each CenteringPregnancy session includes:

  • A medical assessment. Each expectant mom weighs herself, takes her own blood pressure and makes chart entries. Each woman has a private session with a health care provider to share concerns, review progress and listen to their growing baby’s heartbeat.
  • Education in a group setting. Health care providers lead scheduled educational sessions on topics like labor and delivery, nutrition, breastfeeding and parenting. Each session has plenty of time scheduled for the women to address their current concerns and to learn from each other.
  • Group support. The growing relationships between moms, who may be having their first or their fourth baby, adds depth and quality to the group discussions. Knowledge, information and experience flow freely, empowering women to choose healthy behaviors.

  • Support and information

    Erin knew from the first session, that the Centering Pregnancy approach was the right choice for her prenatal care. Her group of expectant moms included new parents and some with older children – one mom was even on her fourth pregnancy.

    “They asked about things I never would have even thought of,” says Erin, who took classes in hypnobirthing after one discussion. “We learned so much that we were ready for whatever might come up.”

    Her husband, Scott, liked the way that they learned from other couples. Their interactions with the other expectant parents were fun and informative, he says. “The roundtable approach was so valuable to us,” he says. “We got so much out of every session.”

    Ready for anything

    Dr. Hassebroek-Johnson says research has shown that the CenteringPregnancy model of prenatal care also is better for babies. Moms who participate in group sessions have fewer premature births and less postpartum depression than those who have the traditional prenatal care. “These women come in better prepared, they have a better expectation of what will happen in labor,” says the OBGYN. “These families have looked at the dynamics of what will happen and the life strategies they’ll use after the baby comes home.”

    Erin and Scott were the first couple in their CenteringPregnancy group to have their baby. Since Grant was in a breech position, they had to schedule a cesarean section. When Erin started going into labor, their baby’s birth date got moved up two weeks earlier than they planned. But everything went well.

    “I was ready because of all of the things we had discussed,” says Erin. “And then we came back and got to share our story.”

    In addition to the education the new parents received, they’ve also made friends that they’ve kept in contact with via e-mail and Facebook. The new moms are hoping to attend Rock N Stroll exercise classes together when their babies are just a little older. “This has been such a positive experience, I can’t imagine doing this without the CenteringPregnancy process,” says Erin, holding Grant in her arms. “Everything was so personalized and so perfect. We were so ready.”

    Posted Date: December 2012