Enhanced prenatal care

Enhanced prenatal care and risk reduction programs

120,804 people reached
45 chapters

Ensuring that women have access to prenatal care and services throughout their pregnancy is a vital role that the March of Dimes plays in communities. Whether bringing high-quality, evidence-based interventions and health care to underserved areas or striving for increased services for pregnant women to help them adopt healthy behaviors, March of Dimes staff and volunteers strategically focus resources and funding in the areas with the most need and potential for impact.

In partnership with community organizations, the March of Dimes encourages expansion of services for pregnant women, including care coordination, home visiting services and maternal medical homes to help moms-to-be access the services they need to have healthier pregnancies and babies. To address factors known to increase a woman’s risk of a poor birth outcome, March of Dimes supports targeted programs aimed at smoking cessation, diabetes management and expansion of substance abuse prevention programs during pregnancy.

22 grants totaling more than $411,000 were awarded to address the issue of care coordination, including support for case managers, patient navigators and medical homes.

The largest overall investment in enhanced prenatal care is the ongoing support for the CenteringHealthcare Institute’s group prenatal care program, CenteringPregnancy®. This model combines three major components of care — health assessment, education and support — into a unified program within a group setting. Through March of Dimes support, more than 1,800 providers and nearly 24,000 women benefited from this model of care, proven to reduce the incidence of preterm birth. Throughout the year, 30 chapters provided 74 grants amounting to more than $1.1 million.

Through a generous grant from the Anthem Foundation from 2012 to 2014, the March of Dimes expanded CenteringPregnancy in 13 states. More than 8,000 women received group prenatal care in these states, and the preterm birth rate among these women was 7.4 percent, compared to 12 percent, the average preterm birth rate for those 13 states.4
Anthem-funded CenteringPregnancy sites: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin

CenteringPregnancy group in action, Hospital of Central Connecticut

Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center

Since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the March of Dimes has operated four mobile health centers in areas with a critical need of services for moms and babies. The Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center program has served communities that are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Each mobile health center is operated in partnership with community-based health care organizations, and each partner develops a service model tailored to meet the needs of women in the communities they serve.

In Mississippi, Coastal Family Health Center provided prenatal and well-woman care to women along the gulf coast. Their services included ultrasounds, helping women avoid having to find transportation to other limited locations for ultrasounds. Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) supported their rural community and schools through immunizations and education provided by their office of public health. St. Thomas Community Health Center served a mixed-income housing development with prenatal, well woman and well-baby care, providing health care within walking distance of their homes.

FedEx, a long-time March of Dimes corporate partner in preventing preterm birth, birth defects and infant mortality, continued their sponsorship of the Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers.

Coastal Family Health Center in Biloxi, Miss., and Southwest Louisiana AHEC in Lafayette, La., collectively provided more than 18,000 encounters, utilizing their March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center from 2008 to 2014.

Since the inception of the project, March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center programs have provided more than 34,000 care visits for moms and babies.

Risk reduction programs

Although many instances of preterm birth have no known cause, certain factors are known to increase a woman’s risk of having a premature baby. Chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, can increase risk, as can using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs during pregnancy. After assessing their local needs, chapters provide training, education and support for various programs to reduce these risks in the populations they serve. In 2014, chapters reached more than 5,600 professionals with information, training and program support and impacted more than 25,000 women.

Quitting smoking is an important change a pregnant woman can make to improve her health and the health of her baby. Smoking in pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of preterm labor, low birthweight and other serious pregnancy complications. Chapters invested in 20 grants totaling $346,753 to support smoking cessation services for pregnant women. 

In 2014, chapters also awarded 16 grants totaling $181,906 for alcohol and substance abuse services to help programs screen women and provide education and case management. 

To address chronic medical conditions known to affect birth outcomes, 14 grants totaling $172,123 were invested in programs that ensure women have access to services to reduce health risks, including hypertension, diabetes and obesity. For example, the Better Beginnings program in Minnesota provides nutrition education to pregnant and postpartum women, enhances lactation support to combat obesity in mothers and babies, and provides information on fitness and nutrition in a supportive group setting.