HCCA/TRMC Provides Innovative Prenatal Care to Local Moms

The Women’s Pavilion, a division of HCCA/Tulare Regional Medical Center is giving Tulare moms and newborns the best possible start by investing in better prenatal care.

Its innovative patient-centered model brings top of the line prenatal care right here to Tulare, the only program of its kind in Tulare County.

Centering Pregnancy is group prenatal care that brings eight to 10 women all due at the same time together for their care. It follows the recommended schedule of 10 prenatal visits, but each visit is 90 minutes to two hours long — giving women 10 times more time with their provider.

A majority of prenatal care is education. Unfortunately, in traditional OB care, an expectant mother only receives about two hours of face-to-face time with her doctor during the entire nine-month period. This leaves mom with unanswered questions, anxiety, and confusion; feelings no woman should experience during pregnancy. The solution to this problem is Centering Pregnancy. Women spend up to 10 hours of time with their provider and receive the best prenatal education possible. This leaves new moms feeling empowered and confident.

The Centering model engages moms in their care by taking their own weight and blood pressure and recording their own health data with private time with their provider for belly check. Once health assessments are complete, the provider and support staff “circle-up” with moms and support people. They lead facilitative discussion and fun, interactive activities designed to address important and timely health topics while leaving room to discuss what is important to the group.

Centering materials help moms and providers ensure that everything from family planning, common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, and infant care are covered in group. The Women’s Pavilion staff has lined up local health care professionals including a dentist, international board certified lactation counselor and dietitian to give women the best access to care. Having so much expertise on board helps avoid “old wives’ tales” or traditions that may not be best practice for mom and baby.

One of the best aspects of Centering is the support group that is established for new moms. Women bond over sharing their similar experiences and find comfort that they are not the only ones experiencing these rapid changes in their bodies and their lives. Moms who participate in Centering create lasting friendships and are wonderful resources to one another during a very exciting but also stressful time in their lives. Having additional support can also reduce post-partum depression in new mothers.

Still unsure about Centering Pregnancy? The outcomes speak for themselves. According to the Centering Healthcare Institute, patients who participate in Centering Pregnancy have been shown to decrease emergency room visits, pre-term births and low birth weight and have higher breastfeeding rates. It is also a group model of prenatal care that is endorsed by the March of Dimes and the American College of Nurse Midwives, yet still follows the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s guidelines for prenatal care as well as aligning with the Surgeon General’s focus on Patient Centered Care Initiatives.

Other support services have been added to create convenience and better health outcomes to Tulare moms. Free child care during Centering sessions and free Evolutions Fitness & Wellness Center membership are offered to all pregnant women at the Women’s Pavilion. Many patients I counsel in my office cite excessive weight gain during pregnancy as the start of their chronic weight problems. Giving pregnant moms access to our Evolutions facility gives them a safe place to maintain low to moderate physical activity to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. This is especially important for our community where gestational and Type II diabetes is so common.

This innovative method of prenatal care is offered to women as the standard of care at the Women’s Pavilion. Services are covered by commercial insurance as well as Medicare and Medi-Cal.

To learn more about Centering Pregnancy or to become part of a Centering group, call 559-684-4530, Ext. 5134. Women’s Pavilion is now enrolling expectant moms due in August and September of 2017.


Kerri Bell is a Registered Dietitian, Lactation Educator and coordinator for Centering Pregnancy at Healthcare Conglomerate Associates.

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