By Ruth Liao
February 5, 2010
Brittani Padilla, 19, of Salem, felt shy at first when she learned she was going to take her
pregnancy checkups among a group of other women at the same time.
But she’s glad she can listen to what the other women have to say.
“They’re going through the same signs and stuff — I’m not the only one,” she said.
Padilla is among 34 women who are taking part of Centering Pregnancy, a 10-session program
offered through Willamette Family Medical Center.
The Centering Pregnancy concept is based on a model of health care developed by the
Connecticut-based Centering Healthcare Institute that integrates health assessment, education
It is the first time Centering Pregnancy is being offered in Salem, said Willamette Family
Medical special projects coordinator Stephanie Wong.
It’s sponsored by CareOregon, a not-for-profit health plan that serves patients eligible for the
Oregon Health Plan.
The program has been shown to reduce premature births and ensure better birth weights,
Wong said. It also better prepares women for delivery, labor and parenting.
“It’s different than the traditional model of having one doctor in the room with the patient,”
Group participants learn from each other, rather than having a doctor talking at them, and can
feel validated about certain pregnancy concerns, such as common back pain or heartburn.
Drs. Paul Balmer and Anne Wild and medical assistants Melanie Nixon and Claudia Garcia
facilitate four different groups.
Each participant gets “tummy time,” or one-on-one check-ups with the providers during the
90-minutes sessions. Then the group takes part in discussions that focus on pregnancy health
such as nutrition or breastfeeding.
Balmer said the participants in the program appear more comfortable in talking. With all
patients, he worries about their unasked questions.
“I’ve learned so much more about my patients, about what their lives are like at home,” he
rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941