Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion Erika Bosch; Dr. Adejoke Ayoola

Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion
Erika Bosch; Dr. Adejoke Ayoola
This summer I am working as a student researcher with Professor Ayoola and Professor
Zandee in the Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion (PREKNOP) program.
According to Guttmacher Institute, around 49 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
Therefore, the goal of PREKNOP is to educate low-income women about their reproductive
health with the ultimate goal of reducing unplanned pregnancy and promoting early recognition
of pregnancy. Part of the program is conducting ten home visits over 24 months to approximately
120 women in the Grand Rapids area. Our hope is that the women will feel empowered as they
learn about their reproductive health, how to live a healthy lifestyle, and the community
resources that are available to them.
As a student researcher in the PREKNOP study, I have obtained many new skills. I have
learned how to transcribe student focus groups and then code the transcriptions to find the
themes that students talk about. I have learned how to input data into various computer programs
and to write surveys that will be conducted with our clients. But, overall my passion and learning
has come from doing home visits with our clients.
Every week I do about ten to fifteen home visits with women all over Grand Rapids. I see
women of many different ethnicities and cultures. This makes the job more difficult at times, but
even more rewarding. I am learning how to connect with women even though we have very
different backgrounds; most of the time this happens when I just sit and listen to a woman as she
presents to me what her life looks like as a low-income female in the Grand Rapids area. I hear
stories of unplanned pregnancies due to the high costs of contraceptives, abuse, underpaid jobs,
no access to healthcare, minimal food supplies, and the list goes on. It is the most eye-opening
experience that I have ever had. I am constantly surprised that these situations are occurring in
the city where I live and I was never aware of them.
I see where injustice is sneaking into the cracks of my community and interrupting the
lives of so many women. However, I am honored to be a light to this vulnerable population. I am
daily teaching them how to confront this injustice and endure the hard circumstances in their
lives. I teach the women the anatomy of their bodies and how to read their cycles so that they
know when they get pregnant and how they get pregnant. I educate them on healthy lifestyles
and the importance of exercise and a well-balanced diet. Finally, I assist them to find the
community resources that they need such as free counseling, food pantries, medications, housing,
and free healthcare.
Although our project is not complete yet, the progress is visible. Women are excited
about the material and many of them are able to track their cycles now by taking their
temperature daily and knowing when they ovulate and menstruate. There are two clients that
have lost almost fifteen pounds because they learned about nutrition and exercise. A couple of
women have started free counseling since we began because we were able to connect them with
mental health resources. Others have started at local clinics where they now see a provider and
have access to their medications for a reduced cost. The program is still in full swing, but the
progress is exciting.
Finally, I have started a literature review for the project. I am focusing on home visits and
why they are beneficial to patients, especially low-income women. Many of the articles talk
about the cycle that low-income women face and how the stressors cause healthcare to move
down on their priority list. Therefore, this leads to more problems such as unhealthy, unintended
pregnancies. Home visits are being shown to be effective for this population because the women
do not have to find transportation or childcare in order to visit an office. Also, the nurses are able
to connect with the patient on a personal level because they are in their environment. One article
stated that more abuse was reported in nurse-home visits than in doctor appointments. Many
women view the nurse as someone that they can open up to and utilize for their needs. I plan on
writing an article with my professors on the importance of home visits in preventive care and
women's health promotion.