Program aims to improve outcomes of preterm births

Jul 27, 2023, 5:38 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm

WOODS CROSS, Utah – With preterm births on the rise, the Healthy Beginnings program aims to nurture healthy pregnancies through support, education, and incentives.

The journey to parenthood is unique and personal – often bringing a long list of questions and worries.

When first-time mom Allison Pope encountered concerns in her pregnancy, she knew where to turn: her perinatal care manager.

Nurse Vicki Alder helps moms like Pope through the Healthy Beginning program offered through SelectHealth.

The program aims to help make pregnancy easier and safer by offering support, education, and incentives to stay on track with prenatal care.

For example, the program offers cash incentives or gift cards for members who meet certain criteria, such as scheduling a prenatal visit with their doctor during the first trimester of pregnancy.

“We found that with that just additional education, and additional support, our preterm birth rates are just a little bit lower than those that don’t participate in the Healthy Beginnings program and have that extra support,” Alder said.

Preterm birth rates are on the rise across the country. They jumped four percent from 2020 to 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, 10.5% of babies are delivered prematurely, or before 37 weeks, in the United States. Utah’s average is currently 9.9%.

“Things aren’t being caught early enough,” Alder said.

The program teaches parents about common signs of preterm labor, such as contractions or cramping more than four times an hour; aching in the lower back; bleeding or spotting; and even a feeling that something isn’t right.

In Pope’s case, she faced a minor health concern early in her pregnancy.

“His abdomen was starting to measure small,” she said about her son.

Pope’s concerns were addressed, and she continued down the path to a full-term pregnancy.

Her son is now a healthy and happy two-month-old.

“The program is important, just because it gives so much reassurance,” Pond said.

And it allows expectant parents to ask questions to determine what concerns warrant a doctor’s visit.

“It felt more of a friend conversation, instead of like, a doctor’s visit where it was strictly business,” Pond said of her check-ins with Alder.

“It’s really important to have that social support as well during pregnancy,” Alder said.

To learn more about the Select Health Healthy Beginnings program, visit

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Program aims to improve outcomes of preterm births