The high road to CHINA!

Guess what guess what guess what? I got invited to help lead a CenteringPregnancy workshop in CHINA!

After months and months of having nothing to blog about because I have been mired in paperwork and meetings and not having fun hanging out with patients in Centering groups, I got an email one night that a medical university in China wanted a Centering Basic Facilitation Workshop and I was invited to be one of the trainers.  I was thrilled to snap up this opportunity!

The workshop was to take place before a national midwifery conference in Shenzhen, and we would be at the Shenzhen Hospital of the Southern Medical University. They wanted 1.5 days of a CenteringPregnancy Basic Facilitation Workshop, and the audience would be midwives from all over China.

The only bad news was that it was very much last minute, which meant a couple of things:

  1. It was a scramble to get all the materials together to get my Chinese visa. I’ll spare you all the details, but it took hours, much Fedexing, and a lot of money to get it through and back in time.
  2. I didn’t have enough time to do any research on obstetric healthcare in China, so I don’t really know much about the environment I was stepping in to.
  3. I don’t know any Mandarin. I flew to the library to pick up a “Learn Mandarin in Your Car” CD, but, heads up everybody, Mandarin is REALLY hard.

But nevertheless, she persisted. The local healthcare team helped a lot with #3, ushering me and the rest of the workshop team around and helping us with what we needed.

The workshop was great – the midwives had heard about Centering before and were very curious about the model. They had many of the typical questions of new trainees. We had a lot of discussion about the importance of letting the group lead – based on some of their questions, we worried that they were focusing too much on “curriculum” and didactic-style education.

I gave them the example of one of my favorite sessions, in which one of the patients brought up the following problem: “My spouse and I don’t smoke, but my uncle, who lives in our apartment, does. We can’t ask him to leave, because we need his help to pay the rent, but I’m worried that exposure to his smoke is hurting my baby. What should I do?”

I pointed out that this wasn’t on my list of topics for that session, but I wanted to take the time to discuss her problem in the group. We brainstormed ideas for how she could address her problem. Ultimately, we didn’t solve her problem, because I’m not sure that it is solvable in the short-term. But, hopefully she got some thoughts from the group that may help her deal with the situation.

I found this interaction a great success for that Centering group, even though it wasn’t what I had planned to discuss that day. I pointed out to the trainees that this is a great example of the importance of letting the group lead and set the agenda. One midwife asked, “Isn’t it a waste of everyone else’s time, if they don’t have that same problem?” One of my other facilitators pointed out that second-hand smoke is really everyone’s problem in China. But I also advised that it wasn’t a waste of time because the group bonded over the mutual problem-solving that they did with that patient. And, if nothing else, that patient felt heard and respected, and there’s value to that.

This workshop was the start of a larger project of capacity-building with the hospital and its staff. I am looking forward to hearing more about how it is going. It was the experience of a lifetime to be able to attend this workshop!



Common discomforts cards – now in Mandarin!



Attendees practicing how to discuss CenteringPregnancy with their colleagues and administrators at their home clinic


This is the logo/mascot of the Shenzen Hospital of Southern Medical University. Is it not the best ever?!


My small group after cups and beads exercise


Sharon on the presentation


Me rockin’ the chopsticks!!!



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