More than family ties influenced Karley Grandy's choice of partner at her monthly prenatal exams.
Grandy's niece, Sarah Rondeau, also is pregnant — her March due date just days apart from her aunt's. But whereas Grandy, 29, has given birth twice before, 24-year-old Rondeau is a first-time, expectant mother with more than a typical dose of fear and uncertainty.
"She is terrified right now," says Grandy, "so she just thinks she's gonna die."
An unconventional, group format for prenatal care at La Clinica did more than ease Rondeau's fears. In the two meetings Rondeau attended as Grandy's guest, she devised a birth plan, weighed options for delivery-room procedures and infant care, learned techniques to facilitate breast-feeding and drew strength from a half-dozen other women in the same stage of pregnancy.
"I never knew anything about a birth plan," says Rondeau. "If I learned a lot in two days, imagine what I would have learned through my whole pregnancy."
La Clinica convened its first CenteringPregnancy group in September for couples whose babies were due in March. Six more groups with about 50 patients have since formed at La Clinica's Women's Health Center in Medford. At the clinic's request, about 80 percent of obstetrics patients have chosen the program over typical prenatal care, says Linda Whitlow, maternal-child health coordinator. Barring scheduling conflicts, all those patients have continued with the format since it started, and most bring partners, family members or friends, she says.