In my experience, women love to share experiences together. Though one of my friends lives a state away now, we still love to call each other on Skype when we’re feeling down or when something exciting happens. Sharing the experience, even if she wasn’t technically there, is just so satisfying. Well, researchers have found that sharing the experience of pregnancy with other pregnant women can be just as satisfying and it can be healthy for their babies.

Researchers from Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute found that women with access to group prenatal care tend to have longer gestational periods and have higher birth weight babies. According to lead author Emily E. Tanner-Smith, research assistant professor of human and organizational development at Vanderbilt's Peabody College for education and human development, group prenatal care had "statistically and clinically significant beneficial effects on very low birth weight and fetal demise relative to traditional individually delivered prenatal care.”

The study originally sought to determine whether or not group prenatal care had the same birth outcomes compared to traditional individual prenatal care. This is an important question to answer because certain circumstances, group care is more cost effective and might be desirable to healthcare administrators. The outcomes of the study were rather surprising, because not only did the group care yield the same results as individual care, but it also had tremendously beneficial effects on serious birthing issues, such as fetal demise. More moderate benefits included longer gestational periods and an average of 29 grams of birth weight.

The results of the study were collected from 6,155 women who received prenatal care in a group setting, or in an individual setting. The group care was modeled after the CenterPregnancy® method which incorporates health assessment, education, and support in a group session.

The study didn’t record any of the women’s thoughts on group care, nor did the research team have any data to test the reasons why the women in the group setting had better outcomes, the group care was obviously beneficial going by the positive results. The Research team did have their own hypotheses about why group care was so effective though. 

"The basic idea is that putting women in supportive environments leads to increased happiness and improved outcomes," says Tanner-Smith. "Building support networks might lead to improved health behaviors with social support because the women have a lot more interaction with other women but also with the prenatal care providers."

Source: Vanderbilt University (2013, September 20). Group prenatal care led to improved birth outcomes. ScienceDaily.