Impact of remote prenatal education on program participation and breastfeeding of women in rural and remote Indigenous communities

Elsevier, EClinicalMedicine, Volume 35, May 2021
Hui A., Philips-Beck W., Campbell R., Sinclair S., Kuzdak C., Courchene E. et al.

Background: First Nations (FN) women have a higher risk of diabetes than non-FN women in Canada. Prenatal education and breastfeeding may reduce the risk of diabetes in mothers and offspring. The rates of breastfeeding initiation and participation in the prenatal program are low in FN communities. Methods: A prenatal educational website, social media-assisted prenatal chat groups and community support teams were developed in three rural or remote FN communities in Manitoba. The rates of participation of pregnant women in prenatal programs and breastfeeding initiation were compared before and after the start of the remote prenatal education program within 2014-2017. Findings: The participation rate of FN pregnant women in rural or remote communities in the prenatal program and breastfeeding initiation during 1-year after the start of the community-based remote prenatal education program were significantly increased compared to that during 1-year before the start of the program (54% versus 36% for the participation rate, 50% versus 34% for breastfeeding initiation, p < 0·001). Availability of high-speed Wi-Fi and/or postpartum supporting team were associated with favorite study outcomes. Positive feedback on the remote prenatal education was received from participants. Interpretation: The findings suggest that remote prenatal education is feasible and effective for improving the breastfeeding rate and engaging pregnant women to participate in the prenatal program in rural or remote FN communities. The remote prenatal education remained active during COVID-19 in the participating communities, which suggests an advantage to expand remote prenatal education in other Indigenous communities. Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Lawson Foundation and University of Manitoba.