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Promising Practices

Engaging Fathers

Description: Fathers and men have long been either ignored or an add-on to maternal and infant health (MIH) programs, yet the importance of engaging them in MIH work has been increasingly noted in the past few decades.  Research findings indicate that fathers’ engagement in their children’s lives is important for fetal growth, infant and childhood development, health and social well-being. In this report we present a summary of the evidence for the role or impact of fathers across the reproductive life span: before and in-between pregnancies, during pregnancy and after delivery (pre-/inter-conception, prenatal and postnatal).

Report: Rationale and Strategies for Engaging Fathers in Maternal and Infant Health Programs

Outreach Strategies

Description: Maternal and Infant Health (MIH) programs are essential for improving health outcomes and reducing socio-economic disparities. To this end, it is vital that underserved women and families have access to such programs. Given their presence in the priority communities, community health workers (CHWs) and home visitors (HVs) are in a unique position to connect with women in need of services. CHWs and HVs are often seen as trustworthy and knowledgeable people within their community and have access to women and families that would benefit from enrolling in MIH programs. As such, the role of the CHW and HV cannot be underestimated in outreach and recruitment into MIH programs. Resources, specifically time and money, are limited and therefore there is a need to identify effective outreach strategies. Examining the role of CHWs and HVs in conducting outreach reveals a broad scope of information which is best presented using the Social Marketing Theory, adapted to a framework for identifying and enrolling participants.

Report: Outreach Strategies for Identifying and Enrolling Women into Maternal and Infant Health Programs

Preconception & Interconception Care

Description: Preconception and Interconception are intersecting areas that span almost the entire lifespan of women. Preconception (PC) health generally refers to women’s pre-pregnancy health status.1 The goal of PC care is to identify and address physical and mental health issues, and social risk factors to women’s health and pregnancy outcomes by providing prevention and management interventions.2, 3  Similarly, Interconception (IC) health is women’s health status between pregnancies. It is important to note that the distinction between early postpartum and early interconception is not always clear, however IC generally includes the postpartum stage. 1, 4 The goal of IC care is similar to that of PC care with the addition of pregnancy spacing.2, 5

HV’s work with women within communities can be an important way for ensuring that women obtain the additional information, support and guidance for PC and IC care.  This report aims to highlight the importance of IC and PC care for communities with high needs, provides an overview of recommendations for the potential role of HV in PC and IC care, and presents evidence of the integration of HVs (from studies, reviews, recommendations, and guidelines) into the delivery of PC and IC care.

Report: Preconception and Interconception Care: The Role of the Home Visitor

Substance Use in Pregnancy

Description: The purpose of this report is to summarize the current body of information and evidence regarding drug addiction during pregnancy.  This report begins with a description of what addiction is and how it occurs.  This is followed by a synopsis of what many of the more commonly abused categories of drugs are, and some basics about how these drugs cause their effects.  Next, an overview of the rates at which the different categories of drugs are abused in the United States and among pregnant women (when such data is available), and the effects these drugs have on a developing fetus/infant and on the mother.  Finally, the report concludes with an introduction to the clinical philosophy of “Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment” (SBIRT), how to recognize addiction or drug use problems, and how to access local resources to provide help.

Report: Substance Use in Pregnancy