The experiences of midwives involved with the development and implementation of CenteringPregnancy at two hospitals in Australia

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Aims : The aims of the study were to describe the experiences of the midwives who were part of the first Australian CenteringPregnancy Pilot Study and to inform the future development of CenteringPregnancy. Background CenteringPregnancy is a model of group antenatal care that has evolved over the past two decades in North America. A pilot study that explored the feasibility of implementing CenteringPregnancy in Australia was undertaken in 2006-2008. I was the research midwife employed to coordinate this study and I explored the experiences of the midwives who were participants as the focus of my Master of Midwifery (Honours) research. Method : An Action Research approach was undertaken to study the implementation of CenteringPregnancy in Australia. This included a qualitative descriptive study to describe and explore the experiences of the midwives who were participants. The study was set in two hospital antenatal clinics and two outreach community health-care centres in southern Sydney. Eight midwives and three research team members formed the Action Research group. Data collected were primarily from focus groups and surveys and were analysed using simple descriptive statistics and thematic content analysis. Findings : CenteringPregnancy enabled midwives to develop relationships with the women in their groups and with their peers in the Action Research group. The group antenatal care model enhanced the development of relationships between midwives and women that were necessary for professional fulfilment and the appreciation of relationship-based care. The use of supportive organisational change, enabled by Action Research methods, facilitated midwives to develop new skills that were appropriate for the group care setting and in line with a strengths-based approach. Issues of low staffing rates, lack of available facilities for groups, time constraints, recruitment difficulties and resistance to change impacted on widespread implementation of CenteringPregnancy. Conclusions : The experience of the midwives who provided CenteringPregnancy care suggests that it is an appropriate model of care for the Australian midwifery context, particularly if organisational support and recruitment strategies and access to appropriate facilities are addressed. The midwives who undertook CenteringPregnancy engaged in a new way of working that enhanced their appreciation of relationship-based care and was positive to their job satisfaction. Implications for practice Effective ways to implement CenteringPregnancy models of care in Australia were identified in this study. These included a system of support for the midwives engaging in facilitating groups for the first time. It is important that organisations also develop other supportive strategies, including the provision of adequate group spaces, effective recruitment plans and positive support systems for change management. In the light of current evidence the development of continuity of care models which enhance the relationship between an individual women and her midwife, it is important to explore the effects of group care on this unique relationship.
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