"Centering" pregnancy program supports moms
Whitney Albright is 12 weeks pregnant.
"I'm huge on being an advocate for your own health, you know, knowing your blood pressure, knowing what's too high, what's too low, what's your normal. It's always important, and i think that you're kind of your own advocate."
Those beliefs are what led Whitney Central Michigan University's Centering Pregnancy Program.
In this case, "centering" has a few different meanings.
"We bring everyone into the circle and we do some type of a meditation to center them into the room," says, Deanna Seemann, RN, as she describes the beginning of the regular classes expectant mom's in the program attend.
In that case, "centering" leans in the direction of meditation and yoga.
But there is much more. After that calming introducting, the sharing begins. The expectant mothers talk about their own experiences, share their knowledge. Possibly most important of all, the group discusses feelings.
Whitney says that is so important for women to feel safe talking about the sometimes confusing feelings expectant moms go through, "And not feeling so weird about asking questions- or go through situations in your head- 'is this okay to feel?' When someone else is going there too."
Moms-to-be come every four weeks initially, as the pregnancy progresses, classes are every two weeks. The women in each class have close due dates, so there is a bond that forms and that they can carry throughout their pregnancies and beyond.
Not only that, the even learn how to take their own blood pressure and other vitals before they have a group session, which is facillitatated by someone on their care team.
"It doesn't replace completley individual care," says the founder of CMU's program, Dr. Erica Canales. "There is still an individual assessment, you can still come in for other visits, but this constitutes the bulk of it, and you get 20 times more time with your provider than you would in routine pre-natal care."
Dr. Canales has spent nearly a decade- since she first discovered it- fighting to make the centering pregnancy program happen at CMU.
Centering pregnancy is new to the Saginaw area, but is has been around in other parts of the country for some time, and with documented success, Canales says,.
"When you look at our rates of infant mortality, for example, premature births, in this county, they are higher than the state and the national average. and, amazingly, the way that this care is provided has been linked with improved birth outcomes."
Dr. Canales's passion for the program has now reached fruition, thanks to funding from the Michgian Health Alliance, and a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
Now, Whitney, still relatively early in her pregnancy, shares Dr. Canales's faith in sharing this experience, "I think in any situation, whether a new one or an old one- with this being the second pregnancy- it's always nice to have people around, surrounding you, that know how you are feeling and are going through what you are going through."
You do not have to be an existing CMG Health patient. For more information about signing up, visit the website: https://www.cmich.edu/colleges/cmed/CMUHealth/CMUHealthSaginaw/OBGYN/Pages/CenteringPregnancy.aspx