In its recent antenatal care (ANC) recommendations for a positive pregnancy experience, the World Health Organization called for innovative, evidence-based approaches to ensure equitable, high quality, women-centered ANC for all. In high-income countries, group ANC is a service delivery innovation that has demonstrated potential for improving utilization of care, perinatal health outcomes and women’s pregnancy experiences.

Traditional ANC generally consists of short, one-on-one meetings between a clinician and a pregnant woman, often with a one-way flow of information and a narrow focus on physical assessment. In contrast, group ANC brings together a group of pregnant women of similar gestational age and supplements their clinical care with group learning and peer support, ultimately fostering deeper relationships, enhancing women’s knowledge and encouraging self-care. The group care model’s success in high-income countries suggests that group ANC could be adapted to improve care outcomes and experiences for women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well.

The Maternal Health Task Force is conducting qualitative research with women and health care providers in an urban setting in India to explore the acceptability and feasibility of an adapted group ANC model in that context. This formative research project has two primary outputs:

  1. A model of group ANC adapted specifically for use in LMICs. The model will be informed by a systematic review of the published literature and a series of key informant interviews with researchers currently testing or implementing group ANC in LMICs.
  2. The results of a feasibility study conducted in partnership with the Vadodara-based firm Centre for Operations Research and Training (CORT) in three health care settings in urban Vadodara, India. During the study, health care providers and pregnant women will have the opportunity to experience a group ANC session and give feedback through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and a written survey.