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Front and Centering

Have y'all heard of Centering yet? My apprentice Donna and I started Centering with three of our clients due in the Summer a couple of months ago and I am so loving it!

If you go to the website mentioned above, you will see the program seems to be very oriented towards young women and those who are at risk (socially/medically). What we've done is take the outline and tailored it towards the needs of homebirthing women.

For example, today we talked about getting the home ready for the birth, what the supplies were for, talked about water birth, the birth tub and where to get the supplies. We also talked about GBS testing because two of the women are at that point (one will be in a few more weeks) and went over the two women's diets that turned their diet sheets in tonight.

What I am finding so wonderful about our Centering sessions is it is like a childbirth class, but with prenatals. The women are bonding with each other, talking with each other about different things, asking each other for information and advice and we (Donna and I) are letting the women lead each other and are there to guide and be there for factual information when it is required. It really is a great sight to behold!

Today, we met in my office instead of the classroom because there was a childbirth class going on in the classroom. More intimate, but not bad. The guys and I sat on the floor and the women sat on the couches. I have two couches (I'll put pics up of my office.) and these odd rugs that shed that I got from IKEA, so I threw down a couple of blankets to sit on. We'd also talked about it being Chocolate Day last session, so I brought Chuao Chocolate and passed that around to those that wanted it. (Chuao is THE best chocolate on the planet - hands down!)

For those that teach childbirth classes, you know this issue well. Sometimes you get a class where the guys just don't speak up. You just don't know what is on their minds - what their issues are. This Centering group is like that. I asked one of the more open dads yesterday what I could do to get the dads to talk more, share more... and he thought maybe if they broke off into their own group, they could share by themselves. I'll try that, but hesitate sending them without a chaparone. If Donna is with us next time, I might send her with them. She'd be a great one to bounce ideas off of. I've tried talking to the guys directly, too, but they are just so quiet! They still come, though, so that says something, right? And they are all going to the Birthing From Within/Hypnobirthing classes. I can't help wondering if they would talk more if we were not in a group setting. I know there will be other sessions where the guys yack it up a lot. In fact, my next session has a couple of repeat dads in it and I know they will be active talkers. It doesn't necessarily mean that a dad is unhappy if he doesn't talk either, right?

I'm glad I jumped into Centering. Many midwives have talked about doing it, but haven't quite gotten the plan into motion. I decided and just did it. Donna and I laid out the topics and went for it. I don't have the exact schedule in front of me, but the topics are something like this (and some topics are covered in the same session):

- Body Image
- Food Choices
- Exercise
- Others' Reactions to Pregnancy & Homebirth
- Preparation for Homebirth
- Waterbirth
- Postpartum Care of Mom & Baby
- Breastfeeding
- Integration of Newborn into the Family

And while discussing topics, we discuss the tests/screens that are due for their weeks' gestation, we talk about any concerns that they want to share in public, we do their blood pressures, fundal heights, listen to heart tones all in the same room together. If women want to speak in private, that is no problem at all, but most share right there... yeast issues, sexual issues... everything... right out in the open! It really is wonderful.

When active children are introduced into the mix, I can see issues arising, however. Kids are an integral part of our prenatal visits and Centering isn't the most kid-friendly model of prenatal care that I can see so far. In the Fall Season coming up, there are several toddlers and pre-schoolers coming up, so we'll see how that goes. I really do want and need children to be a part of mom's prenatal care - it helps so much during the birth - so perhaps I need to be more creative during the Centering Sessions to include them more. Talking can be so boring, though.

I just wanted to share a little of what I was doing in our offices that might inspire you all to try something different if you were so inclined. Even of it isn't Centering, per se, maybe gathering women together in a different way could be your project.

And so I keep thinking forward!

Reader Comments (5)

What about having an experienced dad as a guest speaker?

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

my old apprentice and I did these for about a year - we had about 6-8 women gather and there was a topic every time. we also had them palpate each others bellies, listen with the fetoscopes (feeling another woman's belly is so different than feeling your own), measure each other, etc. it was a good experience, but my new place is too small. :(

we did one popular session on "101 things to do with your placenta" - my apprentice gathered amazing recipes and folklore about placentas!

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSage Femme

I would totally attend a prenatal class. In fact I wish it was a standard thing. There's no master list of the dos and don'ts out there and I'm still learning about don'ts 16w in, which is soooo frustrating. Especially when I've worked so hard to educate myself and still miss stuff. I would've loved a class in my first trimester to help prepare me for the pregnancy.

But I guess, if it's not about labor, we don't need to know about it. This is a real blind spot, imo, in prenatal care.


April 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDementedM

i joined centering with my last pregnancy, i really liked it. to hear all the women's experiences and to share all the stories. I also gained a new friend! FUN FUN, BTW I read your blog all the time, thanks for good reading!

April 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen

We just lost free prenatal classes here in England. So sad.

April 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAgatha

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