Monthly Board Report - April 2001
Weekend Prenatal Course Being Piloted in Gananoque
Submitted by Barbara Guthrie, Public Health Nurse
In April, for the first time in our health unit area, a weekend prenatal course is being offered. Gananoque will be the site for this pilot project. Claire Elliott, the public health nurse teaching the course, is working with Shani Gates, Health Unit Planning and Evaluation Consultant, to plan the evaluation.
Prenatal classes are usually conducted over 7 nights and consume a total of 14 hours. The weekend course will involve three hours on Friday evening and six hours on Saturday. Later on, closer to the delivery dates of the expectant parents, a two hour class will be scheduled to review labour and delivery, and breastfeeding.
Health units are mandated to provide early prenatal education in order to address behaviours, such as tobacco and alcohol use, nutrition, and physical activity, which affect pregnancy outcomes. Because education about labour and delivery is not a requirement of the ministry, many health units have stopped including that topic in prenatal classes. The result has been that, across the province, attendance at those prenatal classes has fallen and the health units that provide only the mandated topics are having difficulty fulfilling the ministry requirements.
At Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit we have continued to offer a complete program that includes labour and delivery. As a result, our classes continue to be well attended. Expectant parents are encouraged to register early in pregnancy so that they receive prenatal education when it can affect outcomes. We have also continued to charge a fee ($40.00) for our classes that helps to make the classes cost effective. (The fee is waived or lowered for parents who cannot afford it.)
In spite of the good attendance at our classes, we must explore every avenue to continue to reach expectant parents. The weekend course attempts to explore an alternative that may suit the needs of some parents.