Although regular prenatal visits with a medical professional are key to keeping both mom and baby healthy, research is now showing that monthly prenatal support groups may also have significant health effects. In the largest study on the topic to date, researchers found that women who attended at least five group sessions were 70% less likely to have preterm and low weight babies. Other studies have found that these mothers also are less likely to have newborns needing intensive care and more likely to breastfeed their babies. Doctors also have been sharing anecdotal evidence that these groups decrease stress and anxiety, especially in first-time moms, that would normally increase their risk of complications.

But only approximately 3% of pregnant American women take part in prenatal support groups. While insurance traditionally covers the fees of attendance, many women are not offered these services due to the startup costs for health centers to begin support groups with properly trained staff and meeting spaces. However, not all women who are offered support group services will take part. Many cite lack of on-site child care and discomfort with the concept of support groups for turning these services down.

Learn more about prenatal support groups and their benefits on expectant mothers here: