Curriculum Development and Pilot Program of Preconception Planning for Latinas

Esperanza Gutierrez, Rhode Island College


Preconception planning is gaining popularity and is a promising method of improving pregnancy outcomes. The need to incorporate this kind of education in various settings is also identified in the literature. According to the March of Dimes, between 2004-2006 Hispanics had one of the highest preterm birth rate of 12.1% in the U.S. and 13.6o/o in RI (March of Dimes, 2009). In addition, during the same years RI statistics on low birth weight infants among Hispanics were 8.3% and 6.9% in the U.S. Healthy People 2010 suggested that this rate should be no more than 5% of live births. A preconception planning program connected with Latina women who were involved in a home based education program at a local community agency. This program used interactive learning, role play, and self-management skills aimed to empower participants by educating them about their health and future pregnancies. The selected educational topics included nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, lead, mercury, influenza and HPV vaccines, smoking and alcohol. Information about health and social services in the community were also provided. Most of the program participants demonstrated improvement in the post-test scores. The challenges faced by this program included lack of consistency in attendance and participants' difficulties answering open-ended questions. More emphasis on education for the minority population is recommended to improve maternal and child health outcomes. In addition, increasing cultural competency and diversity among the nursing profession is critical to improving outcomes.