Today I attended my first Centering session. For those who don’t know of the Centering model, the Centering Healthcare Institute has the following video on their website:
There’s a lot to be said about Centering as a model of care. Right now I’m just glowing in my first experience, and wanted to share.
As a provider who was aware of Centering as an option, I knew just about all one can without actually attending a session myself. The group feeling, the shared experiences, the control women have over measuring their weight, and taking their blood pressure. But it’s so much more than that, and it was a wonderful two hours.
Led by a doula, about 10 women attended the session, and brought with them partners, children, and friends. Children of all ages, mostly girls. Conducted largely in Spanish, with the children interrupting with questions in English, the class flowed through the parts of early and late labor, and crescendoed at the actual birth process itself. Women and families were prompted with questions of, “how you do you know you’re in labor?” “When should you go to the hospital?” “What positions can make you feel more comfortable?” “What can partners do to make the laboring women feel calm and relaxed?” We watched a video of two different birth experiences: one where the woman was dilated at 3cm for what seemed like a very long time and then rapidly progressed to ready to push, and another woman who spent a lot of time at home with support people and went to the hospital at 7cm.
What a beautiful, moving room to be in, and to be a part of. Partners really had some important questions to ask. The younger women in the room, around 8-10 years old, seemed comfortable with the conversation, not surprised or grossed out. It’s so rare for women, individuals, and families currently in most American culture groups to see birth in their lifetime, prior to their own. Centering really normalized the experience. Everyone come hang out, learn about this natural part of life, laugh with each other, and create community. It felt great. It felt right. And it’s incredible how translatable it is to other types of healthcare and in different settings. But, of course, I think there is deep meaning particularly for women, and particularly in pregnancy and birth, for this type of care. It was a wonderful day, to continue seeing women individually on a high of the centered positivity of that group session. Can’t wait for the next one.