In a qualitative research study with women participating in group prenatal care (GPC), the women and the mid-wives who assisted them expressed a high level of satisfaction with their GPC experience. (In GPC, eight to 12 pregnant women of similar gestational age meet with a health care provider to receive their prenatal check-up and education in a group setting.)
The study, as reported by authors Sarah D. McDonald, Wendy Sword, Leyla E. Eryuzlu and Anne B. Biringer in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, sought to gain insight into previously unexplored areas of the GPC experience, perceptions of processes that contribute to positive health outcomes, strategies to promote GPC and elements that enhance the feasibility of GPC.
Participants suggested benefits that contribute to positive health outcomes, such as learning from the group; normalizing the pregnancy experience; preparedness for labor and delivery; and improved relationships. They also cited concerns such as sufficient time with the midwife and other aspects which generally diminished with experience.
Suggestions for change focused on content, environment, partners and access to the midwives. Challenges to providing GPC included scheduling and systems-level issues such as funding and regulation.
In promoting GPC, women would emphasize the philosophy of care to other women and the midwives said they would promote the reduction in workload and women’s independence to colleagues.
GPC offers significant health benefits in comparison to traditional, one-on-one prenatal care. Women in GPC actively engage in their health care and experience a supportive network with one another.
The study collected data through three focus group interviews – two with women who had completed GPC at a midwifery clinic in Ontario, Canada, and one with the midwives at the clinic. Data was analyzed through open coding to identify themes.