nursing for women's health

Earlier this year, Sherri Di Lallo wrote an article for the journal Nursing for Women’s Health called “Prenatal Care Through the Eyes of Canadian Aboriginal Women” (Vol 18, Issue 1, pp. 38-46).

The article provides an overview of the Aboriginal Prenatal Wellness Program (APWP) in central Alberta, Canada. The four Maskwacis First Nations of Hobbema border Wetaskiwin and Ponoka Counties in Central Alberta and have a total population of 13,784 people.

The Aboriginal Prenatal Wellness Program is a culturally safe program that provides client-centered prenatal care that is designed to empower women, families and communities.

The program was created in 2005 to serve Aboriginal women who weren’t accessing the traditional system for prenatal care. Between 2002 and 2007, 16.5 percent of all women in Central Alberta who delivered at Wetaskiwin Hospital and Care Centre had received little or no prenatal care prior to their delivery. Of those, 82 percent were from the Maskwacis area.

The article discusses aspects of providing culturally safe care, including the importance of assessing cultural biases, understanding the roots of health disparities in Aboriginal communities, and understanding cultural history and current practices. Central to cultural safety is self-reflection and building trustful and respectful relationships.

The article provides a summary of an evaluation of the program. Overall, between November 2005 and February 2009, 281 women participated in the program and the percentage of women having limited or no prenatal care dropped.

In terms of substance use, forty-four percent of women stated that they quit drinking and using drugs once they found out they were pregnant while 39 percent decreased their smoking and 16 percent quit smoking.

For more on cultural safety and FASD prevention, see earlier posts: