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Research shows that new mothers are often at risk for serious — and sometimes life-threatening — complications after childbirth, according to the March of Dimes.

Published May 24th, 2023

By Casandra Andrews

With a goal of providing leading-edge care for all expectant and new mothers, the women’s services team at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital has been part of a national collaborative the past few months, working to develop measures to decrease the likelihood that women will die following childbirth.

One intervention developed by the team, led by Vicki Curtis, M.S.N., RN, RNC-OB, is a series of three easy-to-wear medical wristbands for new mothers that remind them and their healthcare providers they are still "at risk" for up to 12 months after delivery. The bracelets, made from stretchable rubber, are meant to alert healthcare providers at any facility that the patient’s complaint may be obstetric-related.

“We are asking new moms to wear them for six weeks after delivery,” said Teneshia Edwards, RNC-OB, who leads the Mother-Baby Unit at Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “It’s a way to identify them and help remove any delays if they require medical care.”

Research shows that new mothers are often at risk for serious — and sometimes life-threatening — complications after childbirth, according to the March of Dimes. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical help if something feels off and to keep all appointments with healthcare providers after delivering a baby.

Warning signs to look for after giving birth include chest pain, seizures, trouble breathing, heavy bleeding, headaches, fever and extreme pain.

The wristbands have messages for different situations. They include: “I Just Delivered,” “Preeclampsia,” and “Pregnancy/Infant Loss.” Each condition brings with it a separate set of potential health concerns.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about the potential for underlying health conditions and remind new moms and their families they could be at risk,” Edwards said. “The bottom line is we want to save lives.”

Earlier this year, Children’s & Women’s Hospital was selected as one of five hospitals in the nation to join a six-month initiative to better understand the inequities that exist for mothers and their babies during the postpartum period to reduce maternal illness and/or death. Because of accomplishments including the development of the maternal bracelets, the hospital has been chosen to continue to the next phase of the endeavor.

Led by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in partnership with Merck for Mothers, the project, Eliminating Inequities and Reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, aims to understand how to best support changes to clinical and administrative processes that will lead to safer and more equitable postpartum care and support for all mothers. In the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An interdisciplinary team with representatives from USA Health and the University of South Alabama has worked on the initiative and will have the opportunity to use AdaptX software to collect, synthesize and report back routing data entered into the electronic medical record on processes of care, stratified by race and ethnicity, by provider or unit. The almost real-time reports offer the potential for the hospital team to enact high-impact changes in the postpartum period to eliminate inequities in care.

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