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Centering pregnancy; A new kind of prenatal appointment

Few things rival the emotion-filled journey of a pregnancy; expecting mothers and fathers can feel overwhelmed, anxious, and alone.

To help with those emotions, a new kind of prenatal appointment has taken shape at Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin. This program, known as Centering Pregnancy, is benefitting many couples in the community.

Centering Pregnancy is an innovative form of prenatal care where groups of couples with similar due dates meet regularly throughout their pregnancies. The program takes the need for appointments with a provider and childbirth education classes and combines them into one.

“The on-going education I received in this group setting helped me through all stages of my pregnancy,” says first-time mother Kristin Wenum. “From the beginning of my pregnancy, I knew the exact dates and times of the sessions. It was convenient for my and my husband’s schedules.”

Centering Pregnancy groups meet once a month for 90-minute sessions for the first four sessions, and then meets every two weeks. In Austin, nurse educator Candace Hample facilitates the meetings to guide conversation and address pregnancy related topics such as prenatal nutrition, breastfeeding, labor and delivery. Each couple also receives one-on-one time with a provider during the meeting to check the baby’s growth and address any personal concerns. The key is to ensure each patient and baby are on track for a healthy delivery.

Rebecca Gust participated in the Centering program during her second pregnancy. “My only hesitancy about that program was thinking I wouldn’t be able to get to know my doctors as I would through scheduled office visits. But that was not the case at all,” says Gust. “The doctors would often visit during the classes and my husband and I were able to build relationships with them as well as with other soon-to-be parents.”

The program gives couples reassurance and validation that their experience is shared by other couples and that what they are going through is normal. Having that type of support network is vital during and after pregnancy. Participants of Centering Pregnancy form a common bond and know they can rely on each other for support.

“I talked with one of my classmates just the other day. It’s reassuring to know other new mothers are experiencing the same things you are,” said Wenum.

She praised Hample and her team for coordinating the program and is thankful for the support and knowledge she received. “I felt confident in the education I received through the classes. I was well equipped to take care of myself and my baby.”

For more information on Centering Pregnancy, please contact Candace Hample at 507-434-1616.