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Prenatal care: for healthier babies everywhere

With November’s National Child Day just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to discuss the importance of promoting prenatal care to expectant mothers. After all, healthy children start with healthy pregnancies, and we couldn’t think of many things that ranked higher on the list than ensuring the health and wellness of children everywhere.Prenatal checkups are important for healthy moms and babies. Mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have babies with a low birth weight and five times more likely to have a baby that dies as opposed to those who do receive prenatal care. For more information on how to promote the importance of prenatal checkups to your expecting patients, read on.

Why don’t mothers get prenatal care?
There are many reasons that mothers do not obtain prenatal care. For some, it is due to socioeconomic disparities, a lack of education or the absence of support from friends and family members. Others simply have no means to get to their appointments. Culture may prevent one from viewing prenatal care as a necessary means to a healthy pregnancy. Or, perhaps it is due to the desire to keep one’s pregnancy hidden, as may be the case with teen pregnancies.

Encouraging prenatal care
Regardless of the reason, education is the key. You can reach out to these high risk populations and communicate the importance of timely, consistent prenatal checkups. Stuff diaper bags with a water bottle and literature highlighting the significance of wellness care for a healthy pregnancy and distribute them to those who serve to benefit from this information. Consider offering incentives such as grocery store gift cards for patients who make and keep a high percentage of their prenatal appointments. Or provide those with transportation difficulty free or discounted bus passes or taxicab chits for use in getting to their prenatal checkups.

Text appointment reminders and care tips to pregnant mothers and their support people. Partners HealthCare funded a successful text messaging program that encouraged pregnant women to get the appropriate prenatal care for each stage of their pregnancy. Texts were sent to those who opted in reminding moms to make prenatal appointments, count baby’s kicks and schedule baby’s ultrasound. After mom gets her ultrasound, provide her with a magnetic photo frame in yellows, greens, pinks or blues. Not only is this a great place for mom to proudly display baby’s first photo, it also serves as a great reminder to take special care of the precious cargo she’s carrying.

Consider imprinting a journal with important pregnancy milestones that coincide with the necessary prenatal appointments. Encourage your patients to utilize this to record appointment dates and times and key takeaways from each doctor visit. This is also a good place for patients to record any questions and/or concerns they may have in between visits. Throw in a blue or pink pen for an added impression.

Postnatal care is equally important
Don’t forget, healthy babies don’t stop with prenatal care. Postnatal care is just as important for the health and wellness of mom and baby. Consider mailing a postnatal checkup reminder with a logo imprinted congratulatory gift for mom and baby. A children’s book is a wonderful choice to welcome baby and serve as a gentle reminder to schedule those important checkups.

This month, be sure to carve out time to encourage your expectant patients to get the prenatal care they need for optimal health and safety of mom and baby.

Womenshealth.govWomenshealth.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012.

Good, Philip. “Encouraging Prenatal Care With Gift Certificates.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Oct. 1990. Web. 19 Aug. 2012.

Center for Connected Health.Encouraging Prenatal Care. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012.

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