What is CenteringPregnancy and how does it work?

CenteringPregnancy® is a model of care that integrates routine prenatal care and extra education about health, pregnancy and parenting within a group setting. People with similar due dates meet with a provider, as a group, for 2 hours 8 to 10 times throughout the pregnancy.

"One of the benefits to me was that someone always asked the question that I didn't think to ask."

Why should I choose CenteringPregnancy?

Benefits of this model of care include:

  • Never having to wait in the waiting room for your appointment
  • Easy access to parking
  • Developing a support system with other families
  • Improved engagement of partners throughout the pregnancy process

"It is so relaxed. It doesn't feel like a medical visit."

Ready to sign up?

Sessions are gathering for your due date. Ask your provider about CenteringPregnancy at your first prenatal visit or call:

Frequently asked questions about CenteringPregnancy

Is CenteringPregnancy a new or experimental program?

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) adopted the Centering Pregnancy care model in 2014, and sites across the United States and worldwide have provided group prenatal care since the early 1990s. Research shows pregnant people who participate in Centering Pregnancy have significantly lower pre-term delivery rates and higher rates of sustained breastfeeding than those who have traditional exam room care.

I'm shy and may not feel comfortable sharing information about my pregnancy in a group setting. Is that okay?

This is one of our most common patient concerns. There is no pressure to share anything with the group you are not comfortable sharing. However, most people find the group to feel like friends where everyone is free to talk or not to talk and to share as much or as little as they want. Many of our participants develop friendships that last years beyond their pregnancy with their group members.

How is my privacy protected in a group setting?

We are required to protect your privacy and take that responsibility seriously. At the first group session, everyone signs a privacy contract; what is shared in the group stays in the group. You can speak when you are comfortable.

The Centering room allows privacy when having your belly checked and gives you time to speak with your provider one-on-one. The opportunity always exists to stay after group to speak with your provider privately or to schedule a traditional exam room visit for a more private matter.

Two hours for a prenatal appointment seems like a long time. What happens during the sessions?

Two hours can seem like a big commitment for a prenatal appointment, but one great thing about Centering is it is designed to be respectful of your time. You will receive a schedule of all your appointments when you sign-up for Centering, and sessions start and end on time, so you can make arrangements for time off or care for your other children in advance.

Centering includes childbirth education and parenting skills, so you may find it unnecessary to register for separate courses. It also includes a private group session with one of our lactation consultants and a group tour of the Birthing Pavilion. During your sessions, there is facilitated discussion about topics of interest to pregnant people as well as time to practice skills, such as breathing, relaxing and holding and comforting a baby. Groups are interactive and focused on issues important to you.

Can I bring my partner?

Yes. We encourage you to bring your partner or a support person to your Centering sessions. Consistency is one of the things that makes Centering unique, so we ask that you bring the same person to each session.

Can I bring my children?

Centering is a special time to focus and learn about yourself and this pregnancy. Because you get the schedule for group sessions for your whole pregnancy ahead of time, it is easier to make childcare arrangements beforehand.

Will Centering be of any benefit to me if I already have children?

We hear this before many of our Centering parents choose to attend a Centering session. Once they have participated in our groups, they often say, "I never understood any of this before, and I wish I had known this with my other pregnancies." We had one woman in our group who had three children, and she had so much to share with the other participants. While she was our most experienced parent in that group, she also learned new information. You have so much to offer!

I live far away. How will I get to my sessions?

The Women’s Health Resource Center (WHRC), home to CenteringPregnancy, is located on the green in Lebanon, NH. It is within an 8-minute drive of Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital and DHMC. The Advance Transit bus, free to the public, makes regular stops just outside the doors of the WHRC. Check out the Advance Transit routes on their website to determine if there is one that may work for you.

Will I get the attention I need from my provider?

Many people aren't sure if they will get the attention they want and wonder what will happen to their individual relationship with a provider in group prenatal care. You will still have individual time with your provider during exam time. You will have more time with your provider throughout your pregnancy, about 20 hours in a group compared to only 2 hours in the exam room. Our Centering providers can get to know their patients better and build stronger relationships in this setting.

What if I can’t make a group?

If there is a scheduling conflict with one of your Centering sessions, you can easily schedule a clinic visit at a convenient time. You can also schedule additional visits in the clinic to address any personal concerns you may have or to be evaluated for acute symptoms, such as an ongoing cough or question of a urinary tract infection. If you cannot attend the session that includes meeting with one of our lactation consultants, you can call the lactation clinic to schedule a one-on-one appointment free of charge. If you miss the session that includes a tour of the Birthing Pavilion, you can call the Women’s Health Resource Center to set up your own personal tour.

How often do groups meet?

Groups meet for an average of 10 sessions throughout your pregnancy. The first 4 sessions are spaced approximately 4 weeks apart, and the remaining 6 sessions are spaced 2 weeks apart. If your Centering group ends before your due date, you will be scheduled for weekly visits with your care team in the clinic. We hold a post-partum reunion one to two months after your due date; you are welcome to bring your baby and share your birth story with the group.

What about my labs and ultrasounds?

All your labs and ultrasounds will happen at your main hospital campus – whether DHMC or Alice Peck Day. You can schedule a visit with a provider after your ultrasounds to review your results in the clinic setting.

Are there any extra costs?

No. CenteringPregnancy is billed exactly the same as traditional prenatal care in the clinic; there is no difference in cost.

"It is an extremely supportive, safe environment."