Online Program

Exploring Periconceptual Health with Oregon WIC Participants

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:50 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Julie Reeder, PhD, MPH, CHES, WIC Program, Oregon Health Authority, Portland, OR
Background: Each year just under half of all pregnant women in the U.S. are enrolled in WIC. By initiating services in the prenatal period and continuing them postpartum WIC has the unique opportunity to interact with women during the periconceptual stage, the critical early weeks of a pregnancy and the time before a subsequent conception. Given that 50% of adult WIC participants are classified as overweight, 20% are anemic and 12% of WIC participants had a pregnancy less than six months after the birth of their last child, understanding women’s perceptions and experiences with periconceptual health is critical.

Methods: 60 in-depth interviews with English speaking WIC participants in 14 local WIC agencies.  The interviews used a phenomenological approach. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and major themes identified.

Results: The majority had at least one pregnancy that was unplanned. Most were familiar with multiple contraceptive methods, had access to them, but use was sporadic. Dental care was more difficult to access than prenatal care, and concerns about quality of dental care for those with Medicaid were frequent.  Ideal birth spacing was based on financial and relationship status more than health. Motherhood was highly valued. Feelings of stress and guilt as well as chaotic childhoods were seen as influencing factors. Diet and exercise advice was viewed as somewhat unrealistic. Most were supportive of WIC discussing birth spacing.

Discussion: Periconceptual health education should include the emotional aspects of motherhood, acknowledge the value of parenting, and help WIC participants overcome personal and systems level barriers.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the personal and systems level factors that influence the periconceptual health of WIC participants Evaluate current reproductive life planning materials in the context of the life experiences of WIC participants Discuss methods for WIC to incorporate periconceptual health messages in to its services

Keyword(s): WIC, Perinatal Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Senior Research Analyst in the Oregon WIC program for 12 years and have conducted numerous qualitative and quantitative studies with the WIC population. I conceptualized the study, conducted all 60 interviews and have been the lead on the analyses.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.