Group prenatal care

Published:February 10, 2017DOI:
      Patients participating in group prenatal care gather together with women of similar gestational ages and 2 providers who cofacilitate an educational session after a brief medical assessment. The model was first described in the 1990s by a midwife for low-risk patients and is now practiced by midwives and physicians for both low-risk patients and some high-risk patients, such as those with diabetes. The majority of literature on group prenatal care uses CenteringPregnancy, the most popular model. The first randomized controlled trial of CenteringPregnancy showed that it reduced the risk of preterm birth in low-risk women. However, recent meta-analyses have shown similar rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, and neonatal intensive care unit admission between women participating in group prenatal care and individual prenatal care. There may be subgroups, such as African Americans, who benefit from this type of prenatal care with significantly lower rates of preterm birth. Group prenatal care seems to result in increased patient satisfaction and knowledge and use of postpartum family planning as well as improved weight gain parameters. The literature is inconclusive regarding breast-feeding, stress, depression, and positive health behaviors, although it is theorized that group prenatal care positively affects these outcomes. It is unclear whether group prenatal care results in cost savings, although it may in large-volume practices if each group consists of approximately 8–10 women. Group prenatal care requires a significant paradigm shift. It can be difficult to implement and sustain. More randomized trials are needed to ascertain the true benefits of the model, best practices for implementation, and subgroups who may benefit most from this innovative way to provide prenatal care. In short, group prenatal care is an innovative and promising model with comparable pregnancy outcomes to individual prenatal care in the general population and improved outcomes in some demographic groups.

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