Healthy pregnancies and births are vital to support mothers and their babies. Hospitals and health systems are working hard to ensure that expectant and new mothers stay healthy – and that their infants get the best start in life.
 
The truth: More needs to be done to improve our nation’s maternal mortality rate, which has risen in recent years to 18.0 deaths per 100,000 live births. The problem is particularly significant in the African American community, where the rate is 40.0 deaths per 100,000 live births. To reverse this trend – and save lives – the AHA launched our Better Health for Mothers and Babies initiative.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of maternal deaths occur during pregnancy … one-third occur during labor and delivery … and one-third occur between one week and one year after birth. Providers must improve maternal health across the continuum of care, from pre-conception up to one year after birth. We need to make it easier for providers to do this – and the AHA is creating resources to help members get there. 
 
We recently shared an Action Plan and Checklist that include steps hospitals can take to help eliminate maternal mortality and reduce severe morbidity. We’ve also shared links to toolkits that were developed through best-practice evidence … and a new Discussion Guide to help hospital-based clinicians work with community-based providers to improve access to care and reduce health inequities for expectant and new mothers.
 
The Action Plan outlines four key steps:
 
1.     Evaluate and act on your data;
2.     Examine disparities;
3.     Engage mothers and families; and
4.     Partner with clinicians and stakeholders in your community.
 
The Action Plan was influenced by what you and your counterparts are seeing in your hospitals and health systems … and includes knowledge from hundreds of hospitals and clinical leaders who serve on AHA’s councils, committees and regional policy boards. It’s being implemented in partnership with the AHA Physician Alliance, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, the Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, the state, regional and metropolitan hospital associations, and the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health.
 
Watch for additional resources in the coming months including webinars, podcasts on the AHA’s Advancing Health channel, best practices, and training modules you and your teams can use to ensure you’re taking every opportunity along the care continuum to ensure the best care for mothers and babies.
 
Long story short: These new resources are designed to help spread best practices on maternal and newborn health – and save lives. We encourage you to use all of our Better Health for Mothers and Babies resources at www.aha.org/bhmb. If you have innovations in care or best practices to share, send them to BHMB@aha.org so we can highlight them for the field.
 
The AHA was an early partner in the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health … and for years, we’ve championed reducing early-elective deliveries, unnecessary caesarian sections, obstetric hemorrhage and preeclampsia, substance use disorders in pregnancy and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
 
With our Better Health for Mothers and Babies initiative, America’s hospitals and health systems are enhancing our commitment to improving maternal health – and we’ll keep fighting to expand access and reduce disparities in care so we can advance health for mothers, babies and all Americans.

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