Ask A Doc Centering

October 20, 2016

Tara Gellasch, MD
Newark-Wayne Community Hospital

Dear Doc:

What is the difference in prenatal care if I go to Centering instead of the office like I did with my last pregnancy?

Dear Reader:

That is a question we hear often.  We get used to a certain way to get healthcare and change can be difficult. Let me explain to you why we feel that Centering Prenatal Care is one of the best ways to receive prenatal care.

Centering Pregnancy is an evidence-based model of prenatal care proven to reduce preterm deliveries and improve birth outcomes for mothers and their babies. Newark-Wayne Community Hospital is one of 27 approved Centering Pregnancy sites in New York State. In Rochester, there are a total of six; three of which belong to Rochester Regional Health. The certification is awarded by Centering Healthcare Institute based in Boston, Massachusetts. The institute evaluates each site before determining if it will receive certification.

In this innovative care model, groups of eight to 12 women in similar gestational stages, meet together with their health care provider where they learn care skills, participate in a facilitated discussion and develop a support network with fellow members. Each group meets for 10 sessions throughout pregnancy and early postpartum. Physicians work with patients to complete physical health assessments, including having the women weigh themselves and take their own blood pressure readings, providing a dynamic atmosphere for learning and sharing.

Centering visits are between 1½ to 2 hours long.  All of the time spent at a Centering visit is time dedicated to you with no waiting time!  You will have the entire visit with your provider and in the company of women who are going through pregnancy at the same time you are. It allows for discussion and for your concerns to be heard and answered.  You will be told the date of each of your 10 appointments before you even go to your first session.

This is wonderful for women who work, as their employer will appreciate knowing in advance when you will require time off from work to go to an appointment.  Many women may feel that the length of a Centering visit will make it difficult to participate due to work; however, we find that you will still need the same amount of time for a regular exam room prenatal visit, but most of the time is spent waiting, not actually receiving care.

Centering is fun. There are educational topics with activities to help women and their partners understand and cope with common pregnancy issues.  You will be able to socialize with women who are going through pregnancy at the same time you are.  We find women become good friends through Centering and often get together after the babies are born. This support is known to help decrease stress and is likely one of the reasons that Centering is known to decrease preterm birth.

Centering is evidence-based prenatal care. This means that it has been studied and determined to be a very good way to get prenatal care, no matter if it is your first or fifth pregnancy!  Many women who have been through Centering for their prenatal care in one pregnancy will come back to Centering for all of the rest of their pregnancies.

Providers of Centering prenatal care like it because they have time to really discuss important topics with the pregnant women in group.  In exam room care, providers are stressed to see a certain number of patients during the day, but in order to care for the number of patients recommended, it requires appointments to be scheduled every 15 minutes. Occasionally a provider has 2 patients scheduled every 15 minutes. That will not allow a provider enough time to truly offer you time to discuss your concerns as providers of prenatal care have things that they need to review with you and move on to the next patient.

Ask a patient receiving prenatal care in the standard exam room model, you arrive to the appointment early enough to register, wait in the waiting room to be called, wait once you are in the exam room for the provider who will only be allowed to see you for 7-10 minutes and then you wait to check out and make you next appointment.  You can see why providers of prenatal care often prefer Centering!

You can learn more about Centering Prenatal Care through the Centering Healthcare Institute website at  At that site, you can watch videos of women who have been involved in Centering prenatal care across the United States and you can find a listing of physician offices in your area that offer Centering Prenatal care. 

Tara Gellasch, MD, is the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital (NWCH) and sees patients at The Women’s Center at NWCH, a Rochester General Medical Group practice.  Dr. Gellasch earned her Medical Doctorate from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Emory University. This column is meant to be educational and not intended to be used to make individual treatment decisions. Prior to starting or stopping any treatment, please confer with your own health care provider. To send questions on a women’s health topic, please email Dr. Tara Gellasch at [email protected] and write “Ask a Doc” in the subject line. The Women’s Center at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital is located at 1250 Driving Park Avenue in Newark, New York. Call 315- 332-2427 to schedule an appointment. 


About Rochester Regional Health

Rochester Regional Health is an integrated health services organization serving the people of Western New York, the Finger Lakes and beyond. The system includes 150 locations: five hospitals; more than 100 primary and specialty practices, rehabilitation centers and ambulatory campuses; innovative senior services, facilities and independent housing; a wide range of behavioral health services; and ACM Medical Laboratory, a global leader in patient and clinical trials. Rochester Regional Health, the region’s second-largest employer, was named one of “America’s Best Employers” by Forbes in 2015. Learn more at

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