The first Group Prenatal Care participants celebrated their successful deliveries of their babies during a “baby shower” luncheon, hosted by the residents and staff of Mercy Health Family Medicine Residency, on March 1, 2018.
Differing from traditional prenatal care, through Group Prenatal Care, the educational portion of an expectant mom’s prenatal visit is done with several other mothers of similar gestational age. Together mothers can discuss their goals for childbirth, breastfeeding and any challenges they are facing. An expectant mother will still have the clinical portion of her appointment handled privately.
“I totally loved it,” said participant Shaneka Morris, who gave birth to baby girl Royalty Chilton at the end of 2017. “It was a good learning experience, where we could all communicate. Even though this is my fourth baby, it put me in touch with other moms who are going through the same thing.”
Morris also “loved the staff,” and the feeling is mutual among the members of the Family Medicine Residency team.
“It’s so humbling to be a part of this Group Prenatal Care program,” said Nirali Bora, MD, preceptor for the Family Medicine Residency program, “and just to see how much knowledge was in the room, among all the mothers.”
To get the program started, Group Prenatal Care received grant funding from Grand Girlfriends, an all-women donor group of the Saint Mary’s Foundation.
“We received a little more than $4,000 to be able to supply our mothers with educational resources,” said third-year resident Justin Blaauwendraat, MD, who led the initiative as his third-year scholarly project, with Bora serving as his faculty mentor. “This project was close to my heart as my wife and I just welcomed a baby girl in July 2017, and I was looking to improve how we delivery our prenatal continuity care requirements for residency.”
With the funds, the office purchased books on pregnancy and childbirth and created binders with information for our patients. The goal is to keep this program sustainable.
“We are already enrolling our second cohort of mothers for our Group Prenatal Care,” said Blaauwendraat.
Group Prenatal Care is a well-researched practice. According to a study by a committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published in March 2018, mothers and babies who participate in group care have better outcomes during and after delivery, and breastfeeding initiation rates are higher for moms who attend Group Prenatal Care, as opposed to control groups.
“I was really excited about meeting my breastfeeding goals with Royalty,” said Morris during the baby shower. The gathering also gave Morris and the other mothers an opportunity to see the other participants’ babies for the first time, after having undergone group care together. The group dubbed themselves, “Growing Together.”
“Oh my gosh, look at all of his hair,” said Morris to another participant, Ebony Bowman, about little Ja’Moni, who was born on Valentine’s Day.
Special thanks to Bora and the other physicians and residents who contributed to the program, as they gathered to congratulate the mothers and hold the babies:
- Jenny Lui, MD,
- Allison Cook, MD
- Nirali Bora, MD
- Justin Blaauwendraat, MD
- Emily Schipper, MD
- Karri MacMillan, DO
The immediate next step for the program will be to sustain its success within Family Medicine Residency through the work of Emily Schipper, who carry this project forward as her third-year residency project. Schipper’s goal is to enhance the Baby-Friendly initiatives within the prenatal care the clinic already provides.
Other next steps could include expanding the Group Prenatal Care within Mercy Health Physician Partners.
“We have heard from other OB Offices within Mercy Health Physician Partners that they might be interested in implementing Group Prenatal Care,” said Blaauwendraat. “We are very proud of this program.”
Want to support great programs like Group Prenatal Care by becoming a Grand Girlfriend or Grand Guy?