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Group Prenatal Care and Meaning to Mothers

By Walker Karraa, MFA, MA

In 2010, ACNM published a position paper supporting group prenatal care which states that “group prenatal care offers an evidence-based model of prenatal care that can improve health outcomes for childbearing women and their infants.” Combining prenatal care and childbirth education into one setting has garnered increased attention in recent years, adding to the growing literature on alternative models of prenatal care beyond the 2.0 model.  For example, the CenteringPregnancy model has been examined in both quantitative and qualitative literature (Rising, 1998; Rising, Kennedy, & Klima, 2004; Rising & Jolivet, 2009), providing researchers insight into the standards of care, outcomes, and patient satisfaction.
In the recent phenomenological study Getting more than they realized they needed: a qualitative study of women’s experience of group prenatal care (McNeil, Vekved, Dolan, Siever, Horn, & Tough, 2012), researchers sought to “understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for women who participated in CenteringPregnancy.” While previous qualitative studies have generated insight as to the experience of group prenatal care for women (Kennedy, et al., 2009; Novick et al., 2011), this current study is the first to explore the meaning of the experience.

Twelve women who had participated in CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care were interviewed postpartum. The central interview question was “What was it like for you to participate in this type of care?” (p. 3). Thematic content analysis revealed six themes describing the meaning of the experience for the participants:  (1) “getting more in one place at one time”; (2) “feeling supported”; (3) “learning and gaining meaningful information”; (4) “not feeling alone in the experience”; (5) “connecting”; and (6) “actively participating and taking on ownership of care."

The authors concluded that these six themes contributed to the core phenomenon of women “getting more than they realized they needed,” and that the active sharing between women met conscious and subconscious needs for education, social support, and community (McNeil, et al., 2012).
While the participant sample was small and data was limited to participants who stayed with the program, this study may represent a deeper understanding of the meaning of group prenatal care for women.

American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). (2010). Position paper. ACNM Division of Standards and Practice. Retrieved from

Ickovics J, Kershaw T, Westdahl C, Rising SS, Klima C, Reynolds H, Magriples U. (2003) Group prenatal care and preterm birth weight: results from a matched cohort study at public clinics. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 102 (5, part 1): 1051-57.

Kennedy, H. P., Farrell, T., Paden, R., Hill, S., Jolivet, R. R., Cooper, B.A., & Rising, S. (2011). A randomized clinical trial of group prenatal care in two military settings. Military Medicine, 176: 1169-1177.

Novick G., Sadler L.S., Kennedy H.P., Cohen S.S., Groce N.E., & Knafl K.A. (2011). Women’s experience of group prenatal care. Qualitative Health Research,21: 97-116.

Rising SS. (1998) Centering Pregnancy: An interdisciplinary model of empowerment. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 43(1): 46-54.

Rising SS, Jolivet R. (2009). Circles of Community: The CenteringPregnancy© group prenatal care model. In Birth Models That Work, Davis-Floyd R, Barclay L, Daviss BA, and Tritten J. eds. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 365-384.

Rising SS, Kennedy HP, Klima CS. (2004). Redesigning prenatal care through CenteringPregnancy. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 49(5):398-404.

Walker Karraa is a doctoral student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology/Sofia University where she is researching transformational dimensions of postpartum depression. Walker holds an MA degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University/Seattle. Walker is a contributor for Lamaze International's Science and Sensibility, and Giving Birth With Confidence. She is co-authoring a book on PTSD following childbirth with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA.
Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 10/31/2012 11:35:55 AM



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