Boulder County, state work to Improve prenatal care for Latinas

When Boulder County Public Health looks at health outcomes it wants to change for the better, it casts a wide net to understand the causes and remedy the barriers it finds.

When it comes to improving the number of Latina women who get prenatal care, that means partnering with state agencies and local nonprofits. In 2016, 71.5 percent of Hispanic women accessed prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy, compared to 84.3% of their white peers, and 81% of all pregnant women in Boulder County.

Early prenatal care helps prevent pregnancy complications and improve birth outcomes. Public Health is one of many agencies in the county and across the state working to improve utilization of prenatal care for all pregnant individuals, with an emphasis on improving access for populations experiencing inequities.

Public Health recently participated in the BUILD Health Challenge, a national grant awarded to Sister Carmen Community Center. Clinica Family Health, Centura Health, and ELPASO (Engaged Latino Parents Advancing Student Outcomes) were key members of the partnership. The grant focused on capacity building with the Latinx community in Lafayette. The stakeholders worked towards shifting existing power structures to positively impact health and education systems to better support families with young children. Activities included engaging local businesses on the importance of paid leave and other family friendly policies like flexible scheduling, infants-at-work, and breastfeeding friendly environments.

“It can be difficult for pregnant women earning hourly wages to request time off, especially if that time off is unpaid,” Pruett said. The current recommended American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology prenatal visit schedule for pregnancies consists of a visit every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, and weekly until delivery.  This schedule of care can be difficult for many women to complete given our professional work norms, making it imperative for our policies to support individuals and families during the prenatal period and throughout the child’s early development, Pruett said.

Care after birth for mother and child also are key, Pruett said, and efforts are ongoing to encourage postpartum care for the mother in addition to regular well visits for baby.  

Giselle Cardona, 19, received prenatal support services through Boulder County’s GENESIS program, which provides young women who become pregnant before age 19 with home visitation services during the prenatal period through the child’s second birthday. The program also monitors the young women for postpartum depression.

“I heard it was important for my baby,” Cardona said of prenatal care. Her son, Efrain Mosqueda, now 10 months old, weighed a healthy 8 lbs. at birth.

After he was born, Efrain proved to be a baby who cried and needed a lot of loving attention.

“I was alone most of the time. I didn’t get any help except for GENESIS,” Cardona said. “He was a very hands-on baby. I would hold him even for his nap. That comforted him a lot. That’s the only way I knew to help him."

Cardona, who lives in Longmont, plans to complete her high school education after Efrain is weaned. “He’s a breast-fed baby and only wants the breast. He doesn’t take the bottle,” Cardona said.

GENESIS clients are twice as likely as other teens to breastfeed and also twice as likely to breastfeed for at least six months.