Pregnancy loves company — how Supportive Pregnancy Care benefits moms & babies

Pregnancy is a happy time but can also be hard, especially for first time moms. There are so many changes going on in your body, from the moment you become pregnant, to the moment you give birth. There are even changes happening after birth!

Your prenatal healthcare provider (such as an OB/GYN, Certified Nurse Midwife or Nurse Practitioner) will see you for regular prenatal care visits during your pregnancy. At that time you can ask questions about what is going on with your body, moods, emotions, your baby’s growth, and pregnancy in general. Your prenatal care provider will provide guidance and support.

There are women who have a lot of questions in between visits and may be hesitant to call their provider’s office. It can feel lonely to have questions or concerns and not know if/when you should call the office or just wait until your next appointment. We realize that it is helpful to talk to someone who is also pregnant to share the experience with you and get support.

We understand.

In 2016 the March of Dimes developed a new group prenatal care program to offer care in a group setting. It’s called Supportive Pregnancy Care.

Supportive Pregnancy Care brings a small group (8–12) pregnant women with similar due dates together for prenatal care with their provider. During group sessions, women learn how to take and record their own vital signs (weight and blood pressure), have an exam with their provider, and get support from other pregnant women. At the 2-hour sessions, the pregnant women gain knowledge and skills related to pregnancy, birth, baby care and stress management. They learn from the medical provider and from one another. They are not alone; they make friends with one another and support each other.

What are the medical benefits of group prenatal care?

Research studies on group prenatal care has shown to have many benefits to expecting moms. For example, group prenatal care:

· reduces preterm birth

· helps a mom become psychologically ready for labor and delivery

· increases the rates of breastfeeding

· decreases the rates of low birth weight babies

· reduces healthcare costs

· empowers women and increases patient and provider satisfaction with care.

Supportive Pregnancy Care focuses on social support, health education and skill-building in a group experience with a team of professionals leading the group. The group sessions provide more time for pregnant moms to ask questions and understand medical concerns. In addition, it offers online resources for providers as well as an online platform for moms to share information, photos, videos and blog posts. Women can also participate in discussion forums. All of this extra care provides pregnant moms with a cushion of added support — something that can have a wonderful impact on both mom and baby.

The March of Dimes program is in a pilot phase now in Tennessee. With the support of the Tennessee Department of Health and UnitedHealth Group, this program is being piloted in seven health systems, and will run until June 2018.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on this supportive model of care. So far, it is getting an A+ from moms and providers!

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