Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center Expands CenteringPregnancy®

Unique program gives women more control of their prenatal care
through group support

Women entering pregnancy can now benefit from an expanded, multifaceted group approach to prenatal care offered at Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center.

CenteringPregnancy® is a nationally recognized program led by certified providers usually nurse midwives; it augments individual prenatal visits with group sessions and gives expectant women better control of their pre-natal care, through a group setting.

“Expectant women are more empowered today than 10 or 20 years ago in making their own health care decisions, and CenteringPregnancy helps them achieve this by bringing women out of isolated exam rooms and into groups for their care,” said Mary Anne Graf, vice president of women’s services, Bon Secours Virginia Health System. “CenteringPregnancy has a proven track record of ensuring healthier babies and healthier, well-informed new mothers. While moms often desire to be in the driver’s seat of their pregnancy, labor and delivery by making their own choices, they also can find pregnancy to be isolating and intimidating at times. CenteringPregnancy provides a supportive setting of women who often share the same ‘pains and passions’ of pregnancy.”

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After completing their first obstetrics appointment at a Bon Secours-affiliated practice or clinic, women receive information on CenteringPregnancy and are offered the choice to participate in the program. Women are grouped by similar due dates. In each weekly session, they receive a private, prenatal check up by a certified nurse-midwife, including weight and blood pressure monitoring. This is followed by a two-hour group educational session led by a certified nurse-midwife. The weekly sessions enable the women to discuss health concerns and expectations in a supportive setting. Weekly topics including nutrition and healthy lifestyles, labor and childbirth options, breastfeeding, pregnancy discomforts, newborn care, child development and more.

Through this unique model of care, women become empowered and feel confident to play a more active role in their pregnancy and overall health. They have access to all their charts, ultrasounds and lab work, and they are acutely aware of how their pregnancy is progressing. Each woman is supported physically, spiritually, psychologically and socially, through bonds that develop within the group.

Initiated in the early 1990s by a nurse-midwife in Connecticut, and today with sites nationwide, the CenteringPregnancy model has resulted in positive health outcomes for pregnancies, specifically increased birth weight, fewer preterm births, shorter postpartum hospitalizations, and fewer unnecessary visits to the emergency room. The satisfaction expressed by both the women and their providers support the effectiveness of this model for the delivery of care.

“Women often are each other’s best teachers, and groups enable them to share a wealth of information with one another,” said Jean Curtacci, RN, a certified nurse-midwife and a group leader of CenteringPregnancy at St. Francis Medical Center. “The women in my groups are more willing to express what they’re really feeling, and they feed off of each other. The experience also is enhancing the way I provide prenatal care in a traditional setting, because I am learning more about what these women are going through in any given week of their pregnancy.”

“CenteringPregnancy has proven to be a really powerful process for a woman’s pregnancy, and it’s changing the way women are receiving their prenatal care,” said Graf. “New mothers especially are seeing this group approach as what prenatal care is, and will be in the future. The support setting will enrich their prenatal health, and the bonds they form will play an important role in each other’s lives. We see this as a new paradigm in the way prenatal care is delivered in the future.”

CenteringPregnancy comes to Bon Secours as a result of its 12-month qualitative and quantitative research, revealing how women today are more empowered than the previous generation of women to seek options and resources to pursue their own health needs. To support this, Bon Secours also is introducing other new programs this year, including Moms in Motion®, a nationally recognized fitness program.

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Sarah Cole

Sarah is a full time working mom of three boys, Max, Hudson and Marlowe. In addition to working and parenting, Sarah has also been seen as an actress on the Richmond stage (and screen). She blogs lovingly but sporadically at

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