We are examining a range of issues related to maternal healthcare in the United States. We are currently interested in both prenatal and postpartum health – better understanding the associated risk factors and how patients engage in care.
Maternal morbidity and mortality is defined by the CDC as physical or psychological conditions that are caused or worsened by pregnancy and result in adverse health outcomes or death. Despite Millenium Development Goals set by the United Nations to reduce maternal mortality around the world, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. has steadily increased from 2000-2014. For Black women, the risk of dying from pregnancy complications is 3.2 times higher than non-Hispanic White women.
The leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths include cardiovascular disease, postpartum infection and hemorrhage. Other postpartum complications, including postpartum depression and anxiety, affect approximately 10% to 20% of all mothers and can be extremely harmful for mother, child and other family members.
In response to these trends, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) revised their guidelines on postpartum care in May 2018. They suggest that women have more frequent, immediate, and individualized attention from healthcare providers following childbirth.
Currently, our team is surveying healthcare providers across the U.S. regarding their opinions and experiences on postpartum care needs in the U.S. These findings will inform policymakers and providers of the gaps between official recommendations and practices, as well as identify potential solutions to overcoming barriers to care. It is our hope that this work will improve postpartum care and the rates of maternal morbidity in the U.S.