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A Closer Look at Group Prenatal Care

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Pregnancy can be an exciting time for expectant mothers, whether they’re waiting to feel their baby’s first kick, planning for a nursery or settling on that perfect name. But, for some women, joyful moments can be overshadowed with uncertainty for their and their baby’s health.

Nearly 10 percent of all births in the United States are delivered prior to term. In fact, the U.S. ranks 131 out of 185 nations in premature birth rates.

Group Prenatal Care (GPC) is an effective model designed to help reduce preterm birth rates while also providing expectant mothers with complete prenatal care. In this approach, eight to 12 expectant mothers gather in groups to gain knowledge and skills related to pregnancy, the birth process, stress reduction and infant care while also receiving their prenatal care and establishing a social support system.

This model is especially important among black and low income populations, where preterm births are more common. For expectant mothers in these communities, group prenatal care can provide support and medical attention to help them reach full term.

According to a Yale University study, GPC can help reduce preterm births by 33 percent, resulting in better health outcomes for mom and baby. Additional benefits may include:

  • Reduced low birthweight babies – 33 percent
  • Reduced rapid repeat pregnancies – 50 percent
  • Savings from reduced neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stays – about $1,000 per birth

UnitedHealth Group (UHG) collaborated with March of Dimes to create a new model of GPC called Supportive Pregnancy Care. Now, the two will scale GPC nationally. The model will be implemented in clinics across the country and will offer free web-based tools and resources. The goal of this initiative is to provide expectant mothers with a network that can help support their needs, answer their questions and improve their birth outcomes, so they can leave the hospital with a healthier baby in their arms.

Coming Soon – A Model to Fit Into Busy Lives
In addition, UHG is developing a modified model to bring the group support component of GPC to the fingertips of expectant mothers. The new model has many similarities to the in-person programs but exists in an online environment. Nurse midwives and peer coaches will lead groups of women with similar due dates. They will provide the necessary education and social support to help them carry to full term. Additional services of this program will include an online and mobile enabled platform with pregnancy care information and extended sessions tailored to postpartum support. The model will also seek to incorporate elements of prenatal care through the use of connected devices in the future. The new model could contribute to the growing evidence supporting group pregnancy models and will enable greater national scale to help improve health outcomes for expecting mothers and their babies.