Guides to pregnancy and parenting translate the science of prenatal care
and early child development into practical guidance for parents.
The Pregnancy Guide, first published in 1989 as Beginnings: A practical guide through your pregnancy, is now in its
8th edition (2011). It has been distributed by home visitation programs,
prenatal care providers and health insurance plans to more than 310,000
families. In surveys, mothers report sharing Beginnings with their partners, friends and relatives, and their
doctors. Six months after close
service, nearly all mothers who participated in New Mexico’s Families First program were able to report where their copy of the Pregnancy Guide would be found. For example, one mother said,
“They are stored with the newborn clothes for my next pregnancy.” Another said,
“I gave it to my cousin who is pregnant.”
Pregnancy Guide is not your usual pregnancy book. Let me count the ways:
1) Conversational tone is easy,
encouraging. It sounds like something you would actually say to a mother
sitting next to you. The text reflects the conversations a caring, articulate,
“patient-centered” practitioner who is up-to-date on the research would have
with each mother at each visit if time allowed. Readability pioneer Rudolf
Flesch documented that conversational tone using personal pronouns and common
words increases readability and comprehension.
learning keeps info immediately applicable. Information is like
is easier to take and more effective is small doses. Adults learn in order to
solve problems they have now. Information that is not immediately applicable is
likely to be ignored or discarded and may be overwhelming. So the Beginnings Guides present essential information in a series of six booklets referenced by gestational age and the usual course of prenatal care.
Selectively cover the content of each booklet in one or more visits depending
on the family’s interests and needs and your frequency of visits.
3) It’s short. Short words in short sentences in
short paragraphs in short booklets increase readability, comprehension and
recall. This “commitment to short” means focus is on the essentials. Even
experienced mothers and educated first-timers who read everything about
pregnancy welcome Beginnings’ focus
on what really
matters at a particular point in pregnancy. We converted to
the 8.5 x 5.5” booklets after
mothers told us that format is easy to carry and store and “they don’t look or feel like homework”.
4) It’s designed to promote maternal
More on that next time. ss