OR Clinics Try New Approaches to Prenatal Care for Latinas
March 8, 2012 -- The goals of healthier mothers and babies are prompting some new approaches to prenatal care at Oregon clinics which serve high populations of Latinas.
One-third of Hispanic mothers receive no prenatal care in their first trimester of pregnancy and are less likely to have health insurance than are non-Hispanics in Oregon.
Clinics such as the Neighborhood Health Center of Beaverton are working with bilingual midwives to make connections with these expectant moms. In the Latino culture, says nurse-midwife Michele Megregian at the Beaverton center, that means also connecting with their families, from partners to sisters, and the woman's other children.
"They're invited to come, not only to the prenatal visits but to experience the birth process as well. So, we recognize that a woman is not an isolated individual in this process, but she's part of a community."
The nurse-midwives are from the Oregon Health and Science University's Women's Center. Megregian says the focus in the prenatal visits is on diet, nutrition and exercise, as well as what's happening in each woman's life and how to reduce stress, which has been shown to be a risk factor in preterm births.
At La Clinica in Medford, Spanish-speaking women have their prenatal visits in groups, based on similar delivery dates. They still get their individual exams, but obstetrician Dr. Linda Harris says the real benefit is the additional support from the other women in the group sessions.
"You get two hours of information about nutrition, you get your childbirth classes that way - breastfeeding, parenting. You get to create some bonds with other women who are going to be having kids about the same age as yours, who you can connect up with in the community."
Harris says their Latina patients often have challenges which make it harder to get regular prenatal care, including working multiple jobs and lacking reliable transportation.
Image for this story courtesy of Flickr user barrybar under a Creative Commons license.