Enhancing Periconceptional Health by Targeting Postpartum Mothers at Rural WIC Clinics

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The overall goal of this pilot quality improvement (QI) intervention was to (1) assess the feasibility of making a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) systems-level change that added measurement of maternal weight and discussion of maternal health habits into each postpartum maternal and offspring visit in rural clinics in Colorado and (2) assess the impacts of the intervention on maternal diet, physical activity, and weight status. A mixed-method evaluation approach was used involving the collection of quantitative data (HeartSmartMoms usage reports, manual WIC chart reviews [to calculate screening rates], pre-/postsurveys, and weight status [body mass index]) and qualitative data (focus groups and project team meeting minutes). It was determined it is feasible to make a short-term systems-level change; however, many barriers were encountered in doing so, and the results were not sustained. The QI intervention did decrease participants’ daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and maternal weight status (controlling for maternal age and language), but did not improve any other eating/physical activity behaviors. Lessons learned and recommendations to improve the implementation of health promotion interventions aimed at improving postpartum maternal health, which can increase health during the periconceptional phase, and in turn, improve the health outcomes for a child, are discussed.

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