Jump to content
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, VCU Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center

VCU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Centering Pregnancy

CenteringPregnancy® at VCU

What is CenteringPregnancy®?

CenteringPregnancy® is an innovative model that changes and enhances the prenatal care experience. It has been on the forefront of healthcare redesign for over a decade and is currently available at more than 50 sites in the United States. Through a March of Dimes grant VCU Health System has been offering CenteringPregnancy® group prenatal care as an option for pregnant women since 2005.  In October, 2007 we became the first site in Virginia to be fully accredited by the Centering Healthcare Institute. More than 300 women have enriched their pregnancies by participating in CenteringPregnancy® at VCU. CenteringPregnancy® has been shown to enhance prenatal care by improving the experience for women and health professionals. After an individual’s new OB appointment, CenteringPregnancy® replaces traditional prenatal care with group care—eight to twelve women who have similar due dates meet regularly with a midwife or doctor who is trained as a CenteringPregnancy® facilitator. Group meetings follow the same schedule as traditional prenatal care appointments, meeting monthly in the second trimester then increasing to every two weeks in the third trimester.

CenteringPregnancy® visits offer much more than a traditional 10-minute visit with a provider. Time that was previously wasted in the waiting room is used not only for assessment and screening, but also education, mutual support and even a healthy snack! Women are empowered to share their experiences. They learn from both their providers and each other while developing a network of friends at the same time, and lower the risk of having a preterm baby by as much as 33 percent according to a study conducted through Yale and Emory Universities. It is also lots of fun!

How will my prenatal care work?

  • Your first prenatal visit will be spent discussing your medical history, screening options and our philosophy of care. We also do a complete physical examination, obtain early pregnancy blood tests, order an ultrasound if indicated and discuss genetic screening and counseling options that are available.
  • Once we are sure of your due date, you will be invited to join a CenteringPregnancy® group. The group meets on the same day of the week and at the same time of day. You will receive a calendar before it starts so you know exactly when your appointments are. This means no more waiting to make appointments. The group meetings take the place of your individual visits and start around 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. Centering groups meet monthly for 3-4 months, and then every two weeks until the last month of pregnancy. In those last four weeks, you will have individual provider visits in the weeks that group does not meet. Additional individual visits can be scheduled as needed.
  • Each group has one facilitator (a doctor, nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner) and a co-facilitator (nurse) who attends every session.
  • CenteringPregnancy® groups are available at Stony Point and Nelson Clinic.
  • CenteringPregnancy® group meetings usually last two hours—they begin on time, end on time and we guarantee there is no waiting! At every meeting there is one-on-one time with the provider for individual assessment and a chance to voice any concerns you may have.
  • You are put in charge of your own care. You will be given a mom’s notebook and taught how to keep your own health record. You will also be shown how to weigh yourself and take your own blood pressure.
  • In CenteringPregnancy® groups, there is a lot of time for questions and education. We have a general theme for each session, but the content is driven by you. We address your concerns, answer questions and bring in guest speakers including but not limited to a physical therapist, pediatrician and pediatric dentist. Topics that are discussed include nutrition, exercise, common discomforts of pregnancy, breastfeeding, labor, birth and postpartum care.
  • Healthy snacks are served at each group.

Your life as a parent stretches before you, and we hope that we can help you to start this new phase in your life with the best possible pregnancy and birth through CenteringPregnancy® Group Prenatal Care at VCU.

How can I find out more?