Group Prenatal Appointments

First off, I want to talk ultrasounds. I, for some reason, thought you get to have an ultrasound every single prenatal visit. Nope. We get one 8-week ultrasound and one 20-week ultrasound (and one 41 week ultrasound if you go past your due date). If you have the Prenatal Screening, you get one then as well. Which is THREE ultrasounds total.

I’ve had five so far, one 8-week ultrasound, two panicked omg-i’m-bleeding ultrasounds, one that I begged for during my 12 week visit, and then one from the Prenatal Screening I did at 13 weeks.

You don’t really *need* an ultrasound each visit. But, I like to see the baby moving. So at our first group prenatal appointment today (at 17 weeks) when the midwife laid out when you actually get ultrasounds…I was a little bummed. I like to watch the baby twirl around like a creepy, black-and-white alien. I like my grainy non-descript printouts that I can say things like, “yes that’s the arm, no … I think that’s a leg.” Ohhhh well.

photo 2

Ok, back to business.

Group Prenatal Appointments

Our hospital offers group prenatal appointments in place of your regular appointments. You come in, take your weight, your blood pressure, you get a doppler heart rate of the babies heart (155 this time), and they feel for the size of your uterus. Our December Birth group has 8 couples, and this process took about 30 minutes for everyone. The midwife asks you how you are feeling, brings up things from previous visits (such as my omg-i’m-bleeding visits) and makes notes of any uncomfortable pregnancy things or fun pregnancy things (such as the baby moving) in privacy.

group-prenatal-care

For the remaining hour and a half the group follows an open discussion where the midwife brings up, “some people mentioned they are feeling hip pain. Who has experienced this? What have been some solutions you have found that helped you cope?” The group chimes in. I mention that I go for short walks, someone else mentions their pregnancy pillow, a massage, etc. The midwife offers any additional suggestions. Then she moves on to the next one. At some point I make a note of U-Shaped pregnancy pillow.

u-shaped-pregnancy-pillow
You will be mine…

Considering I didn’t even bring up hip pain, sleep problems, or other issues (I brought up headaches and congestion)– it was a little reassuring to know that much of the group had felt it, had created some solution that worked for them. While an internet forum is a good source to get this comradery, a post from 2010 isn’t the same as a group of parents all with babies due the same time of you, nodding along with your discomfort.

Our group is pretty diverse in age, race, and scenario–which I think is nice. All but two woman had their partner with them, one brought a friend, and only one was there alone. I think it was nice for my husband to meet other men there, as they joked about giving back massages or losing bed space to pillows. I think they felt the same sort of comradery us pregnant ladies were feeling.

Through discussion I discovered that I hadn’t been scheduled for my 20 week ultrasound, nor had one other lady. I also didn’t have my lab work slip for the second part of my prenatal screening scheduled, along with another lady (never truly alone) and both were taken care of on the spot. We talked about prepping for this ultrasound, drinking water 30 minutes beforehand, orange juice 1-2 hours prior to that. Someone’s eyebrows raised, “Oh! Orange juice? Our appointment is tomorrow, good to know!”

All in all, I’m glad my husband convinced me to do the group visits. I was the hesitant one! He got to meet some other soon-to-be-dads, he got to see a diagram of what is about to happen to all my organs as the uterus expands. The collective intake from all the soon-to-be fathers as  they thought about their partner’s bodies gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, even while I looked at what is about to happen to my intestinal tract.

preg-bodySweet mercy… my… everything…

I heartily recommend these visits if your hospital offers them. It is sort of like a class + prenatal appointment, but billed as a prenatal appointment (so 100% covered for me!). Free education. Ours are 2 hour sessions, so I’m taking half days for them… having a leisurely lunch with my husband beforehand, and calm drive home. You’re only pregnant for the very first time once, so I think it is a worthwhile investment of my time. Frankly, completely worth it!

Here is the syllabus we have:

  • July: Managing common discomforts of pregnancy, and childbirth education options (in the local area). And which ones the hospital is no longer recommending. They called out a few local courses that got good reviews and a few that had bad feedback.
  • August: Choosing a provider for your baby (pediatrician), newborn screenings, preterm labor, and calling the midwives
  • September: Breastfeeding and family planning
  • October 1: Thinking about labor, birthing center tour, “kick” counts, labor pre-registration
  • October 2: labor support, volunteer doula program, labor variations
  • November 1: newborn care and infant safety, continued labor discussion, GBS screening, maternity leave
  • November 2: Postpartum transition, Emotional health, and cesarean sections
  • December 1: going past your due date
  • December 2: wrap up questions
  • February Baby Reunion! To meet up with all the other December babies and show off your 2 month olds. Commiserate about the first months.
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