Voicing Your Health concerns During Your Maternal Health Journey & BeyonD

Maternal health outcomes in the United States are a significant concern, particularly among black and Hispanic women. In 2021, the country had one of the worst maternal mortality outcomes in its history according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite New York City being a global center of healthcare, the city has been struggling with high maternal mortality rates with other states across the country. The maternal mortality rate reported in NYC in 2018 was 22.6 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is significantly higher than the national rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Furthermore, the maternal mortality rate among black women in NYC is more than three times higher than that of white women.

Featured Expert: Trinisha Williams of the Haven Midwifery Collective. Filmed at the Maternal Health “Brunch and Learn” initiative, an event presented by the Maternal Health & Hope Coalition. 

To address these issues, patients need to be aware of their options and take proactive steps to prioritize their health. One of the most important steps that patients can take is to establish a relationship with a healthcare provider before becoming pregnant says Trinisha Williams of the Haven Midwifery Collective, at the Maternal Health “brunch & learn” initiative an event presented by the Maternal Health and Hope Coalition. Ms. Williams says that regular visits with a healthcare provider can help identify and address any health concerns that may affect pregnancy outcomes. Patients can also discuss their family medical history, which can help identify any genetic risks that may affect pregnancy.

During pregnancy, patients should continue to see their healthcare provider and other members of their health team regularly and communicate any concerns or symptoms they may be experiencing. According to Ms. Williams, patients under midwifery care have the added benefit of communicating social, and financial barriers as well as any behavioral or health challenges they may face, as a part of the patient-midwifery assessment. An essential part of care is for patients to understand the warning signs of complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, and severe headaches. If patients experience any of these symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.

In addition to regular medical care, patients can take steps to prioritize their health during pregnancy. This includes eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, getting enough rest, and managing stress says Ms.Williams. Patients should also avoid smoking, alcohol, and drug use during pregnancy, as these can have significant negative effects on both maternal and fetal health. Patients who are at high risk for complications during pregnancy may benefit from specialized care, such as care from a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. This type of care is especially important for patients with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Patients can ask their healthcare provider for a referral to a specialist if needed.

Finally, patients should be aware of their rights and advocate for themselves if they feel that their healthcare needs are not being met. This includes the right to informed consent, which means that patients have the right to be fully informed about their medical care and to make their own decisions about their healthcare. Patients should also feel comfortable speaking up if they feel that they are not receiving appropriate care or if they are experiencing discrimination or bias.

In conclusion, maternal health outcomes in NYC and across the United States are a significant concern, particularly among black and Hispanic women. Patients can take proactive steps to prioritize their health and advocate for themselves, including establishing a relationship with a healthcare provider before becoming pregnant, seeking regular medical care during pregnancy, and being aware of their rights as patients. By working together to address these issues, we can help ensure that all women in NYC have access to high-quality maternal healthcare.

Additional Resouces:

  •  Maternal Health Learning Initiative presented by the Maternal Health and Hope Coalition on May 6th, 2023. Follow Eventbrite to learn more about upcoming events. 
  • On Sunday, May 21, 2023, @ 11:00 am, Midwifery Collective is sponsoring an event at Prospect Park (Lincoln Road & Ocean Avenue entrance across from the East Drive from Lincoln Road Playground) to bring awareness to the issue of birthing centers for all pregnant people. Learn more here
  • Patient Orator helps people plan for their health visits, and track their medical symptoms while teaching them how to talk about their medical and social concerns without fear or shame so they can be heard. Give us a try!

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