Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Tailored Content / Blog Entry

5 Reasons to Consider Group Prenatal Care

pregnant woman support group
Dishing with other moms-to-be, deeper dives into baby-related topics, and more time with a clinician? If those sound appealing, you may want to look into this alternative to traditional pregnancy care.

Having a sole provider to guide you through your pregnancy is fine. But some docs have limited time, and sometimes you just need a stronger support system.

You may not have thought of it, but there is an alternative to one-on-one prenatal care. It’s called group prenatal care. This option can provide many physical and emotional benefits, along with valuable knowledge you may not get from a hurried appointment with a single doctor.  

Imagine your visits for prenatal care with women who have similar due dates, providing a true sense of community, and more time with your provider. Here’s a look at what group prenatal care involves, and some key reasons you might want to give it a try.

What Is Group Prenatal Care?

Group prenatal care provides a one-stop shop for moms-to-be. In addition to getting general prenatal care, you get a built-in support system. Plus, an opportunity to learn about all the aspects of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and infant care. 

Also called centering, group prenatal care works by assembling about eight to 10 women who are all due around the same time. The group meets for a series of 10 visits over the course of six months. These meetings occur every two to four weeks, and last for an hour and a half to two hours. These prenatal care groups start at the beginning of a woman’s second trimester and continue through the end of the pregnancy. 

Each session includes an individual exam and health assessment with an ob/gyn or other obstetric care provider, such as a nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife. This part of the session keeps you up to date with routine visits and gives you private time to ask your clinician questions. 

Afterwards, there’s some social time with the other expectant moms, and a facilitated discussion around a specific topic. Topics may include nutrition, stress management, childbirth preparation, and breastfeeding. You can ask questions of the health professional and discuss the subject openly with the other group members. 

Why Group Prenatal Care May Be the Best Option

The prenatal period is a challenging time for anyone. So much change! So many things to learn! For some women, scheduling individual appointments, not having enough time with a doctor, or feeling socially isolated can add loneliness and more stress to the mix.

That’s where the “it takes a village” approach comes in. Group prenatal care can help you not just physically, but also emotionally. Check out five ways that this type of program may make your pregnancy a whole lot easier.

1. It offers you social support 

Feeling like you’re the only one going through something strange or scary really kind of sucks. Group prenatal care allows you to connect with others experiencing the same stuff. Being in it together can make the experience feel less lonely. And sharing tips, experiences, and information make group members great resources. Plus, you’ll likely create bonds that could lead to life-long friendships.

This can be particularly important if you don’t have a partner or involved family or friend group to rely on. Studies have shown having social support during pregnancy provides a sense of stability and belonging. And these lead to increased self-esteem and a reduction in depression and anxiety. All in all, you boost your ability to better cope with stressful events.

2. It provides knowledge about pregnancy, delivery, and childcare

With each group prenatal care session focusing on a single subject, there’s more of an opportunity to do a deep dive on important topics. Group prenatal care teaches mothers a multitude of things, including how to take their own vitals (such as heart rate and blood pressure) and pregnancy-complication warning signs to look out for. 

Sessions can give you a more thorough understanding of what to expect during labor and delivery. And it doesn’t end there. Meetings will cover postpartum health and infant care, too.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there’s evidence suggesting patients in a prenatal care group have better prenatal knowledge and feel more ready for labor and delivery. Other benefits include a decrease in emergency room visits during the third trimester, better weight management during pregnancy, and improved knowledge of postpartum depression. 

3. It makes it easier to keep track of your routine care

Since the group prenatal care is on a fixed schedule, you’ll know the date and time of all prenatal visits in advance. This allows you to plan accordingly, and cuts down on having to remember and make appointments on your own. Not having to deal with scheduling mishaps that might happen on the provider’s end? Gold!

And because the group meetings last a set amount of time, you’ll also know exactly when you’re walking in and out the door. No waste of valuable time in the waiting room if the doctor is running late.

4. You’ll have more face time with your provider

When you’re not in group prenatal care, your first prenatal visit with a doctor is the longest, typically about 45 minutes. But after that, you may only get 10 to 15 minutes each appointment, and it may feel rushed. 

With group prenatal care, women receive 15 to 20 hours of care over the course of a pregnancy, compared to two to four hours in traditional care, according to the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Some women don’t want to spend that much time in a clinician’s office, but for others, this can be quite a perk.

5. You may have improved birth outcomes

Group prenatal care programs can have a significant positive outcome when it comes to  childbirth. In one Yale University study, researchers found group prenatal care patients have better birth outcomes compared to women who only see their individual doctor. 

The researchers studied 2,402 women who were receiving prenatal care either in a group setting or with an individual doctor. Compared to women getting traditional one-on-one care, women in a prenatal group had a 58% lower risk of having a preterm birth, 63% lower risk of having a low-birth-weight baby, and 37% lower risk of having a baby admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The researchers aren’t completely sure why group prenatal care contributes to these positive outcomes, and say future research needs to be conducted to understand the reasons behind it. One possible reason may have to do with the inclusivity and increased participation of certain racial or ethnic groups. 

For instance, in general, Black women are 50% more likely than white women to have a premature delivery, and twice as likely to have an infant with low birth weight. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Black women who participated in group prenatal care had lower rates of preterm birth and low birth weights. 

All in all, how you receive pregnancy care is a personal choice. Group prenatal care can be a great option if you’re interested in additional support. You’ll get to mingle and bond with other moms-to-be, and learn how to navigate a healthy pregnancy so you, and your baby, can thrive.


Group Prenatal Care: By the Numbers

8 to 10: number of women in a group together

10: number of visits you have as a group over 6 months

90 to 120: number of minutes you meet for each session

15 to 20: total hours of care you get from group prenatal care (compared to 2 to 4 in traditional care)

58: percentage lower risk of having a preterm birth with group prenatal care

63: percentage lower risk of having a low birth weight baby with group prenatal care

37: percentage lower risk of having a baby admitted to the NICU with group prenatal care

Pregnancy Planning
1st Trimester
2nd Trimester
3rd Trimester

Consult with one of our experts