The healthcare community is experiencing a shift toward value-based care with a focus on improving patient outcomes and experience. This includes prenatal care and birth outcomes.

Premature birth (before 37 weeks gestation) and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death both in the United States and globally.

Each year, the March of Dimes issues a premature birth report card for each state and select counties. For 2018, South Carolina earned a D grade, and in the tri-county area specifically, 10.5% of all live births were born preterm.

What these numbers tell us is that there’s a significant opportunity for improvement,” says Dr. Christine Hunter of Lowcountry Women’s Specialists. “And we as providers have a responsibility to help make an impact.”

That is why in addition to traditional prenatal care, Lowcountry Women’s Specialists began offering CenteringPregnancy® — an evidence-based model of group prenatal care that improves maternal and child health outcomes and reduces health disparities.

While all expectant mothers can benefit from this model of prenatal care, Centering can be especially beneficial for first-time moms, high-risk patients, military families, those that do not have a strong support system nearby and African American women — a population in which the preterm birth rate is 52% higher than the rate among all other women in South Carolina.

How it Works

  • Expectant mothers follow a recommended schedule of 10 prenatal visits with each visit lasting between 90 minutes and two hours.
  • These prenatal visits include your doctor, nurse and mom group members. Each group includes an average of 10 women with due dates around the same time.
  • Each mom meets individually with her physician for a one-on-one assessment and engages in her care by measuring her own weight and blood pressure, and recording her own health data.
  • After the health assessments are complete, the provider and support staff “circle-up” with moms and their support people and lead discussions and interactive activities about a variety of health topics including nutrition, common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and infant care.

Additional Benefits

  • Moms in Centering groups spend 10 times more time with their provider than women in traditional care resulting in increased patient satisfaction.
  • CenteringPregnancy® often results in greater self-care because moms are more actively engaged in their own healthcare through the management of their own health information.
  • Research indicates that Centering moms have healthier babies and nearly eliminates racial disparities in preterm birth.
  • Centering moms are better prepared for labor, delivery and caring for their infant.
  • Practices that offer this type of care have reported fewer after-hours calls and emergency visits because expectant mothers are more knowledgeable about what is normal during pregnancy and what is cause for concern.
  • Women in the same group often create lasting friendships and are able to support one another as they go through similar experiences.

Lowcountry Women’s Specialists has locations in North Charleston and Summerville. They are the only private practice to offer CenteringPregnancy® in the Lowcountry, and the only healthcare provider to offer it in the North area. To learn more about this beneficial alternative to traditional prenatal care, visit LowcountryWomen.com or call (843) 797-3664.

The Summerville Journal Scene; March 2019