Dr. Joy Baker

Improving Outcomes for Babies

Dr. Joy Baker, OB/GYN with Upson Women’s Services, has received a $30,000 grant from the March of Dimes to implement an evidence-based program to improve the health of moms and babies.

The grant is for CenteringPregnancy® – a model of care that integrates three major components: health assessment, education, and support, into a unified program within a group setting. Eight to ten women with similar due dates meet together for 1-2 hours, participate in facilitated discussions and activities, and develop a support network with other group members. Each group meets for 8-12 sessions throughout pregnancy and early postpartum. The CenteringPregnancy® meetings are in addition to visits for ultrasound and the final 4-6 weeks of assessment. High risk patients or those experiencing complications may also have additional appointments.

“Prenatal care is vital to the health of our community,” said Dr. Baker. “Looking at the number of premature babies born in Upson County alone, it is clear that providing education and assessment services is one way to help more women carry their babies to full-term.”

According to the March of Dimes in an average week in Georgia, 314 babies are born preterm. In Upson County, 12.5% of babies born are born too soon, which is higher than the state average of 9.3%. Data shows that CenteringPregnancy® can improve these statistics.

A research study in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that women who received CenteringPregnancy® care were 33 percent less likely to have preterm births than women who received standard prenatal care. Understandably, CenteringPregnancy® has also shown promise in reducing anxiety and postpartum depression by building long-lasting connections among women.

CenteringPregnancy® groups provide an atmosphere for learning and sharing that is impossible to create in a one-to-one encounter. Hearing other women share concerns which mirror their own helps the woman to normalize the whole experience of pregnancy.

Groups are empowering and provide support to the members as they learn, grow, and change. Dr. Baker’s grant proposal was successful in part because her programs extend far beyond birth and through the postpartum period to support breastfeeding, family economic development, and parenting skills.

“CenteringPregnancy® is a great start to improving maternal-child health in our region,” says Baker. “We actually began to implement aspects of CenteringPregnancy® at Upson in October and are already seeing positive results! The award from the March of Dimes will help us provide support moms and babies in our community need to have a healthy start. Our full program will start January 2016.” For more information, contact Dr. Baker and the Upson Women’s Services team at 706-647-9627.