Preconception and interconception health

224,495 people reached
36 chapters

Educating women and their families before pregnancy is a critical first step to improving birth outcomes. Many women simply are not aware that a healthy pregnancy begins long before conception. Preconception health refers to helping a woman become as healthy as possible before she becomes pregnant, while interconception health involves helping a woman understand the importance of being healthy between pregnancies and the need to wait at least 18 months before becoming pregnant again to help optimize birth outcomes.

March of Dimes chapters actively promote preconception and interconception health in a variety of ways. Across March of Dimes chapters, more than 28,000 providers have been reached with information, messaging and materials to support their work on preconception and interconception. Whether it is through public education campaigns, participation on preconception and interconception task forces, supporting programs that promote more effective use of the postpartum and well-baby visits, or advocating for folic acid fortification in corn masa flour, March of Dimes staff and volunteers are active in communities across the nation.

Many health conditions that exist before pregnancy can become potentially harmful during pregnancy, so addressing them early is important. In Louisiana, the March of Dimes partnered with the Department of Health and Hospitals on the Own Your Own Health campaign that increases awareness of the issues of obesity and chronic diseases and their impact on maternal and child health. 

In North Carolina, the March of Dimes is leading the multivitamin distribution program for women of childbearing age, to increase the consumption of folic acid, a B vitamin that cells need to help with normal growth and development. Through a partnership with local health departments, the March of Dimes has expanded its reach to the most vulnerable women, encouraging them to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day before and during early pregnancy as it may help reduce their babies’ risk for birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects.

North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign — Training of Folic Acid Community Ambassadors

The March of Dimes supports activities that help to provide access to, and increase participation in, postpartum and well-baby visits and screening for postpartum depression. In Pennsylvania, the March of Dimes offers support for provider training through the Family Medicine Education Consortium’s IMPLICIT program. This interconception care model offers a unique evidence-based approach for reaching women who accompany their children to well-child visits and using that opportunity to assess risks and deliver interventions.

Disparities in birth outcomes also can be addressed through preconception and interconception care. Outreach to specific populations, including male partners of women at higher risk, can raise awareness of the need to address health problems and other risk factors before becoming pregnant.

In 2014, March of Dimes chapters awarded a total of 93 grants to improve preconception and interconception health and health care for women of childbearing age. Fifty-six preconception grants were awarded totaling $693,825, while 37 interconception grants totaled $351,808.

Project Alpha

The March of Dimes and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., began implementing Project Alpha collaboratively in 1980. Designed to provide young men with current and accurate information about teen pregnancy prevention, Project Alpha consists of a series of workshops and informational sessions conducted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brothers.
The three goals of Project Alpha programs are:
• Sharing knowledge by combating ignorance and fear with factual information
• Changing attitudes by providing motivation toward positive changes in sexual behavior
• Providing skills by creating a sense of empowerment and self-esteem
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., chapters across the country work with their local March of Dimes to implement Project Alpha programs reaching more than 23,000 young men every year.