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The Health Initiative That Could Save New Mothers’ Lives

A new federal initiative aims to save new mothers’ lives by using innovative postpartum health strategies.

Women in the United States are still far more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women in other developed countries. A shortage of OB-GYN doctors and shuttered maternity units in many states are partly to blame.

Now, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a Postpartum Maternal Health Collaborative to combat high maternal mortality.

Postpartum Maternal Health Collaborative

The project focuses on six states: Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico. Together, these states will put new research and policy solutions to work toward improving health outcomes for mothers and babies. State health experts, policymakers, community health providers and data scientists will collaborate to understand – and address – barriers to adequate maternal care.

The six participating states will implement and study policies and practices that could better serve pregnant and postpartum women. That may include:

  • Partnerships with doulas and culturally competent care providers
  • Increased telehealth and mobile outreach
  • Improved education

The Postpartum Maternal Health Collaborative forms just part of the 2022 White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. Other key elements include:

Maternal Health in the United States

Despite overall increases in health and well-being, maternal mortality rates in the United States remain out of sync with other developed countries.

In 2021, 1,205 women died of complications from childbirth, often weeks after delivering, when access to care might be lower but the need for postpartum care is still high. Nearly half of maternal deaths occurred after the mother had left a hospital.

Disparities in access to care put some women at higher risk, but most maternal deaths are preventable.