New Moms Prepare Together with Centering

P-W-MKT73733_Moms_CntrngThe newest member of Premier Health’s CenteringPregnancy® family has arrived. In addition to programs for women in Montgomery County at Miami Valley Hospital North, The Dr. Charles R. Drew Health Center and Five Rivers Health Center, women in Butler County now can benefit from the support and health care services the program provides at Atrium Medical Center.

The CenteringPregnancy® program brings together moms-to-be about every four weeks leading up to, and after, they deliver. Atrium Medical Center’s Maternal Child Health Center started the group meetings in response to Southwest Ohio’s  high rate of infant mortality.

Through centering, the goal is for moms and babies to be healthy. Each time the group meets, the eight to 10 expectant mothers get more time with their health care providers and their vital signs are checked. In addition to prenatal care, enrollees receive education on topics such as breastfeeding, safe sleep practices, relaxation exercises during labor, and more.

“This community has a high rate of single moms and one of their barriers is social support,” said Charissa Newton, a midwife at Atrium Medical Center who helps facilitate the centering program. “Centering helps address that barrier by bringing moms together who understand each other. They can make long-term friends and positively affect each other’s lives.”

During the centering group’s third meeting together, Maya Hackney of Middletown was 22 weeks pregnant and approaching her 25th birthday. She is a college graduate who studied early childhood education and works at a local daycare center. Despite her training, that centering meeting’s activities on breastfeeding myth busters helped her sort fact from fiction about the benefits of breastfeeding her baby.

Even with a “great support system” of family and friends, Maya said, they often don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant. With the centering group, “you feel like you’re not alone, and you meet other people who are going through the same things as you are,” she said.

Atrium launched CenteringPregnancy® through a partnership between the hospital, the Butler County Partnership to Reduce Infant Mortality, and the Ohio Department of Medicaid. Butler County sought state government funding to start new centering programs, including the one at Atrium, to combat infant mortality, premature births and low birth weights affecting local newborns.

Priority enrollment is given to African American women. They experience the highest rates of infant deaths before their baby’s first birthday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Statewide in 2015, the infant mortality rate was 7.2 deaths per 1,000 births for all races and 15.1 deaths per 1,000 births for African American infants, according to the state health department’s most recent data. Butler County’s infant mortality rate of newborns of all races was also 7.2 percent.

To join CenteringPregnancy® at Atrium, participants must be Butler County residents and on a Medicaid health plan. The extra prenatal support can help women expecting their first baby, like Maya, as well as women who are experiencing high risk factors in their pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes.

“CenteringPregnancy® can make a positive impact on these young women’s lives by improving birth outcomes, promoting self-awareness of their bodies and health, and providing support and friendship,” said Charissa.