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CenteringParenting: An Innovative Dyad Model for Group Mother-Infant Care



CenteringParenting is a group model that brings a cohort of 6 to 7 mothers and infants together for care during the first year of life. During 9 group sessions the clinician provides well-baby care and also attends to the health, development, and safety issues of the mother. Ideally, CenteringParenting provides continuity of care for a cohort of women who have received care in CenteringPregnancy, group prenatal care that is 10 sessions throughout the entire pregnancy and that leads to community building, better health outcomes, and increased satisfaction with prenatal care. The postpartum year affects the entire family, but especially the mother, who is redefining herself and her own personal goals. Issues of weight/body image, breastfeeding, depression, contraception, and relationship issues all may surface. In traditional care, health resources for support and intervention are frequently lacking or unavailable. Women's health clinicians also note the loss of contact with women they have followed during the prenatal period, often not seeing a woman again until she returns for another pregnancy. CenteringParenting recognizes that the health of the mother is tied to the health of the infant and that assessment and interventions are more appropriate and efficient when done in a dyad context. Facilitative leadership, rather than didactic education, encourages women to fully engage in their care, to raise issues of importance to them, and to discuss concerns within an atmosphere that allows for the surfacing of culturally appropriate values and beliefs. Implementing the model calls for system changes that are often significant. It also requires the building of a substantial team relationship among care providers. This overview describes the CenteringParenting mother-infant dyad care model with special focus on the mother and reviews the perspectives and experiences of staff from several practice sites.