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Mothers Empowered Provides Vital Prenatal Support to Women

Participating women experience higher satisfaction in prenatal care, lower rates of pre-term birth

DAYTON, Ohio (October 10, 2016) – For hundreds of women, pregnancy often brings a handful of questions that may not have been thought of during a prenatal visit or answered due to lack of support from a group of close friends.

However, some women are seeing this void filled with Mothers Empowered, prenatal care that combines a woman’s prenatal visit in a supportive setting with other women who share a similar due date. Mothers Empowered consists of up to a dozen women who meet for one to two hours at a time giving them a greater opportunity to address concerns as well as developing vital relationships with other women.

“There has been documented research of patients reporting a higher degree of satisfaction with their prenatal care and we have also seen a reduction in preterm birth to women who participate,” says Jalana Lazar, a certified midwife who helps facilitate Mothers Empowered groups, which meet at Lifestages Centers for Women.

Mothers Empowered is important for other reasons as well. Most women who participate in it are 23 years of age or younger and bring with them unique challenges – such as a lack of transportation or social support – that can prevent her from keeping prenatal checkups. Such challenges can be bypassed by advanced monthly meeting dates. Likewise, input from other women in similar social situations can provide the support they need to know they are not alone, says Lazar.

Mothers Empowered is based off a national model, Centering Pregnancy®  . The model is governed by The Centering Healthcare Institute , which certified the local site three years ago. 

“There are not that many sites that have been certified in Ohio, and so this is a real distinction for us to be considered a Centering site,” says Lazar, who practices within Premier Health Specialists.

The national model was built for young women, but Lazar says her site has expanded to include women of all ages. Such an inclusive approach provides diverse groups where young women can learn from older moms and vice versa.

“These women are going through all the parts of their pregnancy together and that really gives them the social support that they might be lacking in other parts of their lives,” Lazar says. “It also means that they’re getting the same information to make good and healthy choices during their pregnancy.”

The beginning of each 90-minute session starts with a private assessment for each woman, which includes checking her blood pressure and weight, measuring the growth of her uterus and answering any of her individual questions. The remainder of the time is spent in a circle where Lazar or another advanced practice provider facilitates a group discussion on topics such as nutrition, pain management during birth or postpartum depression. A social worker is also on hand to assist women in areas not covered by medical professionals.

“We get a lot of questions about pregnancy myths that might have been passed down through generations,” Lazar says “Often times you can see the relief on women’s faces when they realize they aren’t the only ones going through a particular issue.”

Many of the women participating in Mothers Empowered are isolated from good information other women may take for granted. Lazar says one unexpected success from Mothers Empowered is the amount of women who came into the first session with no desire to breastfeed, but end up doing so once their baby is born.

“Mothers Empowered is a holistic approach to prenatal care,” Lazar says. “It builds on the knowledge that women already have and that can be an empowering thing.”

Fifty-six women gave birth through Mother’s Empowered in 2015. Of that number, 95 percent of the babies were at or above birth weight and 84 percent were full-term deliveries. More than 60 percent of the moms in the program made the choice to breastfeed their babies.

Through the support of the hospital foundation and the generosity of donors passionate about the cause, a second location has now been added at the Lifestages Centers for Women at Miami Valley Hospital North .

For more information on Mothers Empowered or to find a Premier Health Specialists physician near you, visit www.premierhealthspecialists.org/obgyn.

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