HMHB provides community-based prenatal education and resources to expectant mothers across Georgia.
Through our comprehensive curriculum, we provide critical information regarding breastfeeding, perinatal HIV prevention, oral health, SIDS prevention, maternal mental health, accessing and locating birth support professionals, family planning, and extant public services including the Text4Baby application, Newborn Screening Program (DPH), Babies Can’t Wait, the HMHB Maternal and Child Health Referral Line. Importantly, our instructors must have demonstrated cultural competency in serving women of color and young mothers.
In collaboration with partners, we make these classes available to expectant women who are potentially high-risk, members of vulnerable populations, or face other barriers in accessing critical care and resources during pregnancy. Our comprehensive curriculum covers priority information on evidence-based maternal and infant health improvement measures to address gaps in information received during the prenatal period.
In her 2004 article, Promoting and Implementing Evidence-Based, Best Practices in Childbirth Education, published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, Dr. Nanya Philipsen states, that, "The childbirth educator must model evidence-based practices by systematically engaging in activities to improve his or her own changing curriculum." We strongly believe that one of HMHB's greatest strengths is our ability to convene and engage with partners in the maternal and infant health fields throughout Georgia.
Our curriculum is based on a variety of evidenced-based practices from DPH, CDC, NIH and professional provider organizations, such as ACOG. We are continuously seeking feedback from partners in review of our prenatal educational programs to assure we are implementing the most current best practices. We prioritize adaptation of evidence-based programs that have demonstrated effectiveness in low-income communities and in working with diverse groups to encourage positive behaviors around perinatal health.
Why is Prenatal Education Important?
- Nearly 75% of Georgia’s mothers leave the hospital breastfeeding their babies, but only 19% are making it to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of exclusively breastfeeding for six months.
- The latest data shows that 15.8% of women did not receive prenatal care or received it quite late in pregnancy, equating to 23,827 births without adequate prenatal monitoring and intervention.
- Moreover, disparities exist between mothers utilizing Medicaid versus other payer groups, with the rates of postpartum visits for the three Medicaid CMOs at 60.78%, 61.81% and 63.24%, respectively, compared to 92.3% for all payer groups.
- Georgia’s rates for premature births, maternal and infant deaths and low birth-weight infants are all above the national average.
- "Benefits of prenatal education classes have included increased confidence for labor and birth among women who attended prenatal classes, higher likelihood of breastfeeding, improved communication between childbearing women and their maternity care providers, decreased need for analgesic medication in labor, and increased satisfaction with birth (Chalmers & Kingston, 2009; Enkin et al., 2000)."
- "Poor pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm births and infant mortality, are associated with late or no prenatal care, unplanned pregnancy, cigarette smoking, alcohol and other drug use, being HIV positive, short interim pregnancy spacing, chronic diseases, obesity, maternal age, poor nutrition and low socioeconomic status (https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/prevention_agenda/healthy_mothers/birth_outcomes.htm)."
- "The need for collaborative community-based efforts from multidisciplinary teams was identified as a priority by national leaders as an important strategy to address the health disparity gap in birth outcomes. A focus on preconception health and enhanced prenatal care has been recommended as strategies for finding solutions (http://clinmedjournals.org/articles/jfmdp/jfmdp-1-002.pdf)."
- "Group prenatal education paired with quality prenatal care has the potential to greatly impact some of the leading causes of infant death (Ibid).
Our programming aims to empower expectant families who are at higher risk for poor birth and postpartum outcomes to get the critical information and access to resources they need. Surveys from our most current prenatal education programs indicate that all participants increased their knowledge by attending our workshop, with 94% of participants reporting a significant increase in knowledge of priority information on maternal and infant health.