ACOG Committee Opinion No. 731 Summary: Group Prenatal Care

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Abstract

Individual prenatal care is intended to prevent poor perinatal outcomes and provide education to women throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period through a series of one-on-one encounters between a woman and her obstetrician or other obstetric care provider. Concerns regarding increasing health care costs, health care provider availability, dissatisfaction with wait times, and the minimal opportunity for education and support associated with the individual care model have given rise to interest in alternative models of prenatal care. One alternative model, group prenatal care, may be beneficial or preferred for some practice settings and patient populations, although individual prenatal care remains standard practice. Group prenatal care models are designed to improve patient education and include opportunities for social support while maintaining the risk screening and physical assessment of individual prenatal care. Bringing patients with similar needs together for health care encounters increases the time available for the educational component of the encounter, improves efficiency, and reduces repetition. Evidence suggests patients have better prenatal knowledge, feel more ready for labor and delivery, are more satisfied with care in prenatal care groups, and initiate breastfeeding more often. There is no evidence that suggests that group prenatal care causes harm. Individual and group care models warrant additional study with a goal of demonstrating differences in outcomes and identifying populations that benefit most from specific care models.

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