Governor Holcomb announces January 23rd as Maternal Health Awareness Day, initiative to improve maternal care

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The Indiana Department of Health and Governor Holcomb announced Saturday that health officials are working to improve maternal heath statewide, and making January 23rd Maternal Health Awareness Day in the Hoosier state.

This initiative comes at a good time as Indiana is among the ten worst in the country in maternal health. The much-needed push from state officials is dedicated to improve care for mothers and pregnant women in Indiana, as well as a way to remember the women who have lost their lives in childbirth. The state saw 123 pregnancy-related deaths in 2018 and 2019, and an additional 1,000 women are affected each week by severe complications during delivery in the country. In order to improve these numbers, Sally Dixon, Coordinator of Maternal Infant Health Initiative for the St. Joseph County Department of Health says that action needs to come from many different directions.

“When it comes to improving maternal health, it’s that we have to act in several different areas,” says Dixon. “So there’s systems in policy, and then with institutions like health care institutions and health care providers, and then with mothers, families, and communities themselves.”

Health care professionals are focusing on efforts to make sure that Indiana mothers are abe to have more healthy deliveries and recoveries. As a part of the roll-out, the Indiana Department of Health listed a number of ways that it plans to improve health care for mothers. A notable one being Indiana Medicaid extending pregnancy coverage to twelve months post-partum.

 “When you think about when someone has a baby, their health care needs don’t stop after two months,” Dixon says. “Quite a bit of maternal complications happen after that time period, and so for moms who are covered by Medicaid to be able to continue to access health care for a whole year is really significant.”

Dixon thinks that giving a day to maternal health awareness comes from the belief that the blame for poor maternal care tends to go to the mothers themselves, but Dixon says that is not the case.

I think the burden of improving maternal-infant health fell on mothers, and it’s something they’re doing wrong, and there’s lots of work to be done within our own systems and access to care,” says Dixon. “And so I think that’s possibly why having this Maternal Health Awareness Day is a way to say that just about everybody has a role in that.”

Besides the different efforts coming from the state, Dixon believes that bringing attention to the issue is a great first step.

“We do better solving issues is bringing awareness that it exists to the broader community,” Dixon says. “Any times we’re intentionally raising awareness about an issue, increases the likelihood that we’ll improve it.”

To find more information about maternal health, you can visit the State Department of Health’s twitter @StateHealthIN using the hashtag #123forMoms.

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