Experiencing Group Prenatal CareEmily Malone
When we first decided to use a midwife group, I chose my group based on recommendations from a few of my husband’s coworkers, as well as my own research on hospitals and practices. I lucked out and found the perfect group for me that happens to practice in a hospital that I can literally walk to (not that I plan to…).
Just a few days after our moving truck was unloaded, I had my 17-week check up appointment my first with the new midwives. After this first appointment, we were told that we had two options for prenatal care for the duration of my pregnancy. The first option was to continue going to routine monthly (and eventually bi-weekly) individual appointments just as most people do.
The second option was to join a group class that lasts two hours each time, and is a combination of prenatal care and childbirth classes. Group prenatal care? I wasn’t quite sure what to think.
At first I was hesitant and not sure how I felt about giving up my individual appointment time. What if I felt embarrassed to ask important personal questions to my midwife? The nurse explained to me that the group prenatal appointments would also include a short individual session with the midwife, and that I could always switch back to traditional appointments if I felt it wasn’t a good fit.
Because we were new to Seattle and I literally knew no one, I thought joining the group care would be good for me and would help me to meet other new moms in my area. We signed up, and we have been so happy with our experience ever since. We were placed in an October group with other couples all due within a few weeks of each other.
At each appointment we arrive and take our own vitals that we then record in our class notebooks. I’m in charge of heading down the hall to take my own weight, as well as using a wrist cuff blood pressure monitor.
For the first 20 or 30 minutes of our two-hour session, each mom or couple heads to a private room to meet with the midwife. While we’re in there, I report my weight and blood pressure, and she measures my fundal height (belly size) and we listen to the baby’s heart beat (my favorite part!). At that point I also have the opportunity to ask any personal questions or discuss any individual needs I might have, like adjusting medications, talking about blood work, dietary questions, etc.
Once we have all had our individual meetings, it’s time for our group session. It’s funny that I was worried I would be embarrassed or too shy to talk in front of the group it is most definitely not the case! We are all very comfortable and open with each other, and I really enjoy learning from the other girls in my group as well as from our facilitators.
Each session has a set of topics, which have ranged from staying comfortable during pregnancy, how to deal with symptoms, learning positions and strategies for childbirth, and thinking about newborn care.
While it’s not the most traditional approach to prenatal care, I’ve found it to be a really fun experience for me. I have loved having Casey there with me for appointments, so that when delivery day comes we are both armed with the same resources and information.
Since we had this great option for group prenatal care, we opted to not sign up for an additional childbirth class series. With just a few weeks to go, we’re excited to attend our last few classes and see how our baby (as well as the other babies!) is starting to prepare for his arrival.
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