March of Dimes Awards Grant to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital for CenteringPregnancy Program®


Ellsworth, Maine -- The March of Dimes Maine Chapter has awarded a grant to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital to provide CenteringPregnancy®, a program proven to help reduce premature birth and cesarean birth rates, and increase breastfeeding among participants.

Premature birth is the leading killer of newborns and can be a major cause of lifelong disabilities. Premature births create and estimated, increased medical cost of $26 billion a year in the United States and are stressful for families. CenteringPregnancy® is a prenatal care program shown to help lower preterm birth rates and has proven to be successful in reducing preterm labor rates in up to 33% in participants.


According to Sally Hennessey, Director of Program Services for the March of Dimes Maine Chapter, the lowered rates are assumed to be due to an increase in social support, education, and resulting compliance with prenatal care. Jane Gerlach, Certified Nurse Midwife, will lead the team at Maine Coast Women Care in this innovative program. The staff at MCMH received training for the CenteringPregnancy® program and is accepting patients into the program now, expecting the first group(s) to start meeting in May of this year.

The CenteringPregnancy® program focuses on group centered prenatal care where a small group of women, all within the same stage of pregnancy, receive prenatal care education. Groups form within the 12th to 16th week of pregnancy and continue for 10 sessions until the early postpartum period. "All of the midwives and physician providers at Maine Coast are excited and enthusiastic about implementing Centering Pregnancy!  This model will provide women of our area with care that meets the highest standards for prenatal care.  The opportunity for women to have extended time with the midwife and physician providers, and to draw on the support of each other during pregnancy and postpartum time is invaluable.  They will be able to hear from other clinical experts including a dietician, lactation consultant, and physical therapist.  We are very grateful for the support of March of Dimes in bringing Centering Care to our families in down east Maine," says Jane Gerlach,

During typical prenatal care visits a woman spends a short time with her health care provider. Within the CenteringPregnancy® program a woman spends two hours with her provider in an open environment, where part of the room is designated for prenatal care and the rest of the room is designated for discussion. These discussions help to build social support systems, which may help reduce stress levels.

Each patient receives prenatal care assessments with her practitioner and is able to discuss specific concerns. She also learns and performs self-care techniques, such as taking her blood pressure and accurately weighing herself. Each woman is invited to share her experiences and discuss different topics relating to pregnancy and parenting with other the participants and her health care provider.

Since the inception of The CenteringPregnancy® program in 1994 the program has expanded to more than 38 states and the District of Columbia. There are currently two other Centering Pregnancy programs in Maine, one at MidCoast Hospital in Brunswick and one at Maine General in Augusta.

About The March of Dimes

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and information, visit or Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Maine Coast Memorial Hospital

Located in Ellsworth, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital is an affiliate of EMHS.  The 64-bed, full-service hospital serving Hancock and western Washington Counties. Opened in 1956, our comprehensive healthcare facility provides emergency, primary and specialty care, acute inpatient, diagnostic, and surgical services. Maine Coast Memorial Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission, reflecting our commitment to meeting the highest performance standards for patient safety and quality, and has received both national and state recognition for patient safety, outcomes, and patient satisfaction levels.  More information can be found at