February 26, 2019

UW Health expands successful CenteringPregnancy program

Madison, Wis. — UW Health’s third CenteringPregnancy location opens as Governor Tony Evers proposes a funding increase for mother-baby care in his first budget.

Mother-baby care is the top priority of the most recent Community Needs Assessment, which looks at the health of a community by using data and collecting community input. The assessment, carried out by the Healthy Dane Collaborative, of which UW Health is a part, takes a big-picture look and identifies the most critical health needs of the community and develops and implements community health programming to address them.

CenteringPregnancy is a group prenatal care effort intended to improve the health of moms and babies and reduce prematurity rates in Wisconsin.

The new location opened earlier this month and is a collaboration with the Meadowood Health Partnership at the Joining Forces for Families building, 5810 Russett Road.

“UW Health is the first health care provider in Dane County to offer community-based group prenatal care,” said Robin Lankton, director of population health at UW Health. “Group prenatal care is an evidence-based strategy for reducing low birth weight, NICU stays, and post-partum depression, and increasing breastfeeding. This is particularly true for African-American women.”

The infant mortality rate for black babies in Wisconsin is two to three times higher than for white babies.

The governor has a plan in the budget called “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies,” that would establish an Infant Mortality Prevention Program in the Department of Health Services to focus on post-partum care and increase funding for programs to reduce health disparities.

CenteringPregnancy groups usually have between eight and 12 women, all with similar due dates, so they can share experiences and support one another during pregnancy. A health care provider does an individual checkup, including blood pressure, weight, belly measurements and heartbeat checkups at the beginning. Then a group session starts with a wide range of topics including labor and delivery, breastfeeding, nutrition, newborn care and nutrition.

A nearly $17,000 community grant from the March of Dimes will allow the program to add a third location for expecting mothers who live or work on the west side.   

The groups currently meet at the UW Health Arboretum and Access Community Health Center Wingra Family Medicine clinics (on South Park Street) and the UW Health West Clinic on Junction Road.   

The grant money will also support transportation for patients who need help getting to and from appointments, baby supplies to provide incentives for attendance, further education and training for providers and more supplies for the group.

The March of Dimes grant was made possible through the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.

Four area hospitals — UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, Stoughton Hospital and University Hospital — along with Public Health Madison and Dane County form the collaborative known as Healthy Dane.

The department of obstetrics and gynecology in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health began CenteringPregnancy in 2014.