Prenatal education and outreach

491,226 people reached
42 chapters

Prenatal education is an important component of supporting healthy pregnancies. Prenatal education promotes the maintenance of healthy lifestyles during pregnancy, helping expectant mothers manage stress, support a healthy diet, avoid harmful chemicals and situations, recognize warning signs and symptoms that mean something may be wrong with their pregnancy, and prepare for labor and delivery.

The March of Dimes partners with multiple stakeholders including local and state health departments, community based organizations and perinatal collaboratives to design, disseminate and support widespread awareness and education campaigns to ensure the greatest reach. To educate women with the latest prenatal information, the March of Dimes uses a wide variety of award-winning educational materials, web content, videos and social media outreach strategies. Our local community outreach includes the use of culturally and linguistically appropriate March of Dimes materials in WIC sites (food security support for Women, Infants and Children), Healthy Start programs, places of worship, and in beauty salons.

Many prenatal education programs take place in a supportive group setting. These programs introduce key messages and then reinforce them through interactive exercises and group discussions guided by a trained facilitator. As women meet together during their pregnancies, they develop trusting relationships with other group members that often last long after their babies are born. Many of the programs utilize March of Dimes curricula that can be adapted for women from specific cultural backgrounds.

In 2014, March of Dimes chapters invested nearly $1,000,000 in prenatal education and outreach through 157 grants.

Becoming a Mom/Comenzando bien

Becoming a mom/Comenzando bien is the March of Dimes comprehensive prenatal curriculum designed for use with pregnant women in a supportive group setting. Nine sessions, in either English or Spanish, present information on prenatal care, nutrition, stress, things to avoid during pregnancy, labor and birth, postpartum care and newborn care. The curriculum includes background information for facilitators, participant handouts, step-by-step lesson plans and appendices with suggestions for adapting the curriculum for use with specific cultural groups.

The Texas Chapter maintains an active network of Becoming a mom/Comenzando bien prenatal education programs around the state. With 74 participating sites, the chapter conducts quarterly networking calls and provides training and technical assistance to ensure group facilitators have the most up-to-date information and resources to meet the educational needs of pregnant women.

In 2014, nearly 20,000 women and 1,100 providers were reached through training, education or program attendance. To support activities and expand the availability of Becoming a mom/Comenzando bien programs in communities, chapters awarded 34 grants totaling more than $292,000.  

Raquel Espinoza (far right), CHC’s Childbirth Educator and Facilitator of Becoming a mom/Comenzando bien with the graduating moms and their healthy babies

The Coming of the Blessing

Seven chapters implemented The Coming of the Blessing in 2014 reaching 1,319 women.

American Indian and Alaska Native mothers have the highest rate (23.8 percent) of inadequate prenatal care of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. To address this issue, the March of Dimes formed the American Indian/Alaska Native Women’s Committee in 2006, including representation from 10 different tribes. The committee studied existing materials and programs for pregnant Native women. They identified a need for health education resources that addressed cultural and spiritual beliefs shared by many Native communities. The women believed that they could help improve the health of mothers and babies by emphasizing strong family and community bonds and the deep and profound respect for nature, life, ancestors, women and children.    


The American Indian/Alaska Native Women’s Committee, chaired by Denise Aragon (lower left). The committee consists of volunteers from 10 different tribes, as well as March of Dimes staff.

The result was The Coming of the Blessing, a comprehensive health education booklet that encourages American Indian/Alaska Native women to include their traditional beliefs and lessons from their ancestors into their prenatal practices. The program has now expanded to provide culturally relevant prenatal education teachings to Native women across the United States. In 2014, the Alaska Native/American Indian Women’s Committee came together with two new members from New York and Oklahoma. The committee focused on development of a brochure addressing neonatal abstinence syndrome among Native women.

In 2014, there were also three Coming of the Blessing trainings held in Arizona, Nebraska and New York with representatives from 10 different tribes. March of Dimes chapters work with tribal partners to implement the program including training program facilitators, providing educational materials and resources, and offering ongoing technical assistance as needed. 

88 percent of the moms who received prenatal education through The Coming of the Blessing attended all their prenatal appointments and the preterm birth rate was lower among program participants. The Coming of the Blessing gained a “promising practice” seal from the Indian Health Service.

Stork's Nest

The March of Dimes and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., have been collaborating for more than 40 years to bring prenatal education and group support to low-income pregnant women. Stork’s Nest is a prenatal health promotion program for low-income pregnant women that provides education in a group setting, and offers incentives (such as diapers and infant clothing) for attending prenatal care appointments, prenatal education classes, and adopting healthy behaviors during pregnancy.

In 2014, 29 March of Dimes chapters worked with local Zeta Phi Beta chapters to implement Stork’s Nest programs in 125 sites across the country, reaching 5,665 women with prenatal education.