Maternal health and its awareness have become an important topic in the healthcare domain. Maintaining and caring for women’s health is important because women need personalized care during and after pregnancy. 23rd January is celebrated as Maternal Health Awareness Day so that people become aware of the importance of maternal health. Maternal health includes pre-natal, post-natal and comprehensive care for women throughout pregnancy. Let’s read what 2024 has in store for this special healthcare domain.

What is maternal health?

It refers to the overall mental and physical well-being of a woman before and after pregnancy. This includes the social, mental, emotional and overall well-being of a woman during pregnancy. Well, iimportant because it takes a huge toll upon women to bear and procreate children. A disturbed mental and physical state of a woman during pregnancy can disrupt the whole process. As a result it can lead to stress and disturbance in a pregnant woman’s life. 

Why is maternal health important?

Access to maternal healthcare has increasingly become elusive for many patients globally. Ongoing challenges related to finances, staffing, and policies have compelled hospital administrators in both rural and urban areas to close their labour and delivery units. As a result, patients are compelled to travel longer distances or forgo necessary care. Rural areas, in particular, are grappling with growing difficulties in accessing maternal care, with over one-third of U.S. counties identified as maternity care deserts, according to a 2022 report from the March of Dimes.

Additionally, individuals, including those in the postpartum period, are grappling with the loss of Medicaid coverage after the conclusion of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The 12-month period immediately following delivery is critical, as it is when some of the most severe pregnancy-related complications can occur. Those dealing with maternal mental health conditions require consistent access to care, facing systemic challenges in obtaining necessary treatment. Although some state legislators have opted to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, there are still states where individuals are ineligible for the full year of coverage recommended by ACOG. These challenges disproportionately impact Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women, with their maternal mortality rate being two to three times higher than that of white women, as indicated by CDC data.

To compound these crises, the aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision has left individuals unable to access necessary abortion care, exposing them to the risk of complications and even death.

What are the challenges in maternal health?

Every year, over 135 million women experience childbirth, yet tragically, one woman loses her life every 90 seconds due to complications arising during pregnancy or childbirth. The likelihood of maternal death is significantly elevated, being 2.7 times higher for women lacking formal education. In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than half of women benefit from the presence of a trained midwife, nurse, or doctor during childbirth. Additionally, a staggering 140 million women across the globe express the desire to postpone or prevent pregnancy, yet they lack access to voluntary family planning methods.

Following are some of the challenges in maternal health:

  • One woman dies every 90 seconds due to pregnancy or childbirth complications
  • Pregnant women are vulnerable to epidemics. Pandemic and other such conditions.
  • Lack of strong policies puts pregnant women at risk for higher maternal mortality, complications, and infections
  • Some women choose home births due to pandemic chaos, despite risks, financial crunches etc. 
  • Universal testing is essential, but results must be available quickly
  • Access to rapid testing is limited, especially in rural hospitals
  • Partner accompaniment during delivery is crucial for mental and physical health
  • Amnesty International highlights challenges faced by women accessing maternal care during COVID-19 in Zimbabwe
  • Maternal health care must be prioritized to prevent increased mortality rates during pandemics
  • Preparedness, protection of healthcare workers, and patient collaboration are crucial in a pandemic
  • Obstetric patients provide valuable epidemiological data for understanding the virus

Rapid testing on arrival, adequate treatment, support for individuals, and accessible post-delivery care are extremely important. 

Therefore, it leaves the policymakers and hospitals to have a duty to develop effective guidelines recognizing vulnerabilities and striving to protect pregnant women. 

What is the theme for maternal health in 2024?

The theme for this year’s maternal health is- “Access in crisis”. Accessible healthcare has become the most crucial aspect of healthcare. Healthcare cannot function without accessibility. Facilities must be made in such a way that maternal healthcare becomes accessible to all pregnant women. 

The crisis in maternal access within the United States is undeniably dire. Each of us can contribute to altering the trajectory and enhancing results. Assist ACOG in heightening awareness regarding the jeopardized state of maternal health care access in your state or community. Recognize that the lives, well-being, and safety of patients hinge on stakeholders uniting to formulate robust policy solutions and execute programs and initiatives. It is imperative to restore and safeguard care access to mitigate the prevailing challenges.

Mental, cardiac & coronary conditions in Maternal health

For the initial time, mental health conditions have been documented as principal underlying causes of pregnancy-related fatalities among white, Hispanic, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. ACOG is committed to heightening awareness surrounding perinatal mental health, disseminating patient resources, and spotlighting clinician tools focused on enhancing patient screening, diagnosis, and referral. This includes our perinatal mental health toolkit and AIM’s forthcoming perinatal mental health patient safety bundle.

Cardiac and Coronary Conditions

Cardiac and coronary conditions, coupled with cardiomyopathy, stand as predominant causes of mortality within the Black population, particularly in the postpartum period rather than during labour and delivery. ACOG aims to raise awareness, stressing the imperative for continuous coordinated care and comprehensive health coverage extending for a full year post-delivery for individuals in the postpartum phase.

Maternal Health Awareness Day 2024

In 2016, the New Jersey Section of ACOG collaborated with the Tara Hansen Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the New Jersey Medical School, the New Jersey Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and the New Jersey Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives to advocate for the establishment of Maternal Health Awareness Day in New Jersey. This initiative came to fruition legislatively in 2017, marking the inaugural Maternal Health Awareness Day in New Jersey.

The success of a District III-wide Maternal Health Awareness Day propelled all Sections within District III to initiate educational programs fostering awareness of health risks among communities, patients, and various stakeholders. Since 2021, ACOG has been nationally observing Maternal Health Awareness Day, partnering with entities nationwide to amplify awareness and understanding the issues of pregnant women.

ZeaHealth and maternal awareness

ZeaHealth focuses on transparent and accessible maternal care. Caregivers must provide specified and personalized healthcare for women who are pregnant. 

Improving this involves a multifaceted approach that addresses various factors contributing to the well-being.

Strategies to enhance maternal health:

Access to Quality Prenatal Care:

Ensure access to early and comprehensive prenatal care for all pregnant individuals. Regular check-ups can help identify and manage potential complications early in the pregnancy.

Education and Awareness:

Promote maternal health education to increase awareness about healthy behaviours during pregnancy, potential risks, and the importance of seeking timely medical attention.

Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services:

Provide access to family planning services, contraception, and reproductive health education to empower individuals to plan pregnancies and ensure optimal spacing between births.

Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle:

Encourage proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet, sufficient rest, and regular exercise.

Mental Health Support:

Integrate mental health support into maternal health care to address perinatal mental health conditions. This includes routine screening, counselling, and access to mental health resources.

Reducing Disparities:

Address socioeconomic and racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Implement policies and programs that specifically target vulnerable populations to ensure equitable access to care.

Access to Skilled Birth Attendants:

Enhance access to skilled birth attendants, including midwives and qualified health professionals, during labour and delivery to reduce maternal mortality and improve birth outcomes.

Emergency Obstetric Care:

Strengthen emergency obstetric care services to address complications during childbirth promptly. This includes access to emergency transportation for individuals in remote areas.

Postpartum Care and Support:

Extend postpartum care beyond the immediate delivery period, offering comprehensive postpartum services, mental health support, and guidance on infant care.

Community Engagement and Support:

Foster community engagement and support networks to create an environment that values maternal health, encourages healthy practices and assists pregnant individuals and new mothers.

Policy Advocacy:

Advocate for and implement policies that support maternal health, such as paid maternity leave, workplace accommodations, and insurance coverage for maternal care.

Health Information Systems:

Strengthen health information systems to track and monitor maternal health indicators, enabling data-driven decision-making and targeted interventions.

Technology Integration:

Explore using technology, such as telemedicine and mobile health applications, to improve access to maternal health information, monitoring, and support, especially in remote areas.

Continued Research and Innovation:

Invest in ongoing research and innovation to advance maternal health knowledge, improve healthcare practices, and develop new technologies that enhance maternal care.

One must look to improve maternal health by going for a collaborative effort involving healthcare providers, policymakers, communities, and individuals to create a supportive and accessible healthcare environment for pregnant individuals before, during, and after childbirth. Zeahealth believes that education about maternal health should be the primary target of all organisations whether health or political.


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