Birth will break you wide open.

And it takes a while to put yourself back together again.

Birthing and parenting can be miraculous and beautiful, but these experiences also bring challenges, confusion, frustration, and sometimes tears.

At San Francisco Birth Center, we know how hard it can be. You are often navigating this crazy parenthood journey without the help of extended family.

Two ways we try help you through this period of deep transformation are education and community. We do it through one of our most unique services: Group prenatal care.

Prenatal groups offer opportunities for expectant parents to share experiences and resources and to learn from one another.

Clients love group prenatal care because they create a long-lasting, supportive community with others who are also navigating the turbulence this change can bring.

Group prenatal care is often the first opportunity clients have to start making connections with other people who are at the same stage in life.

San Francisco Birth Center client Leda Bashi’s experience with group prenatal care perfectly captures the possibilities for connection.

“All seven mamas from our group are in a text group where we share photos, ask for advice, and support each other,” Leda shared. “It’s the most amazing and supportive group I’ve ever been involved with, and I love them all so much. Most of us meet up through the week. We have lunch, regularly go to baby-mama yoga, or go for walks. We are planning a weekend get together, so the dads or partners can come, too.”

How group prenatal care works at San Francisco Birth Center

When you’re about 10 weeks, you’ll come for your first appointment, which is a private visit. Just you — and a partner or support person, if you choose — and one of our midwives. That model continues for the next two appointments, at about 13 and 15 weeks of pregnancy.

These private appointments allow us to get to know each other. We talk about early pregnancy milestones, and these discussions are tailored to the individual needs of you and your family.

Around 20 weeks, group prenatal care visits begin. Eight to 10 families with due dates within about a three-week spread gather for eight sessions, each with different themes and  topics.

The visits happen during the evening from 6:30 until 8:30, so working parents are able to attend. We welcome and encourage partners or support people to come, too!

We start with introductions and icebreakers, which are the start of many opportunities clients have to connect with one another.

Next, we jump into our theme for the evening, facilitating discussion and activities designed to educate but also provide opportunity for families to connect further and learn from each other During a 10-minute break, we meet privately with each client and do belly checks.

The group prenatal visits initially occur monthly, moving to a bi-monthly schedule toward the end of pregnancy. Private visits resume at 36 weeks and continue weekly until the birth of your baby.

What’s covered during the educational portions of group prenatal care

One of the main reasons we offer group prenatal care at San Francisco Birth Center is because we are able to dive deeply into topics that routine prenatal care mentions only very briefly or perhaps not at all.

Sometimes we have guests, like former clients, other experts in the field, pediatricians, and lactation consultants.

Here’s a brief overview of the topics we cover during the group prenatal visits:

·  Fetal development in each trimester

·  Testing for gestational diabetes and anemia

·  Childbirth class options

·  Benefits of a doula

·  Choosing a pediatrician

·  Nutrition

·  Group B Strep testing and treatment

·  Preterm labor and danger signs

·  Options for what you might want to do with your placenta postpartum

·  Phases of labor (early , active, pushing)

·  Pain management, including nitrous oxide

·  Available Newborn medications and procedures

·  Positions in labor

·  Complications and hospital transfers

·  Support systems and relationships

·  Postpartum planning 

·  Postpartum depression

·  Family planning and contraception

·  Breastfeeding

·  Newborn care

We have the beautiful opportunity to explore these topics at length.

Can you imagine discussing nutrition during pregnancy for a whole hour? We talk about how protein and calcium help to build healthy babies We discuss how to choose a wide variety of vegetables, considering things like color and vitamins. We talk about iron, calcium, and fermentation.

We really get passionate about teaching when it comes to the postpartum period.  While getting to know your new baby can be magical, those first few days and weeks after birth can be hard. We do not gloss over how challenging it can be to do something that once seemed simple, like peeing, which is a chore immediately after birthing a baby!

The group prenatal sessions arm you with knowledge about how your body will heal and shift. We talk about when you might want to have sex again and how it might feel, along with the importance of connecting with your partner and spending time nurturing other relationships besides the one with the baby! 

As midwives, we don’t want to simply stuff information into our clients’ heads. In our groups,  we welcome questions and discussion. We want you to go home, digest, and let us know what you have learned.

Which leads to another benefit of the group model: Someone else in the group might ask a question you didn’t think of. And oftentimes, clients have specialized knowledge to share with the group that they have learned from their own life experiences, community, or individual research.  

Health benefits of group prenatal care

Research shows that the group prenatal care model has many benefits. It has been shown to:

·  Reduce healthcare costs

·  Lead to higher satisfaction

·  Increase breastfeeding rates

·  Lead to healthier pregnancy spacing

·  Decrease rates of preterm and low-weight babies

The decrease in preterm birth is particularly notable, especially among those in the African American community, who are at an increased risk for preterm birth in the United States. The group prenatal care model has been shown to significantly improve racial disparities in preterm birth.

Pregnancy can be stressful. \There is less stress when you have community, and community is what you get with group prenatal care.

How group prenatal care builds community among clients

Group prenatal care at San Francisco Birth Center allows you to meet other families and connect with them. We see many of our clients create wonderful friendships and bonds.

San Francisco can be a transient city. Because many of our clients don’t have extended family or perhaps close friends in the area, the community offered in the group prenatal model can be especially supportive.

When our clients have their babies, it’s beautiful to see the excitement among families who were in group prenatal sessions together. They clearly care for one another and often provide a sweet support system that feels quite unique.

These connections commonly continue after the birth and throughout parenting. The group prenatal sessions can create  a community that could really change your life after you have your baby.

Learn more about group prenatal care at SF Birth Center

At San Francisco Birth Center, group prenatal care is at the core of our program. Expectant parents understand the importance and power of connection, and the group prenatal sessions provide the perfect opportunity to build your community.

For more information about group prenatal care at San Francisco Birth Center, email us or give us a call at 415-780-0848!