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How We Improve Maternal Health

HRSA improves the well-being of mothers and pregnant people before, during, and after pregnancy through quality programs and the development of a skilled workforce.

Quick facts

  • Pregnancy-related mortality has not improved over the past decade.1
  • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native women are at least two to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as non-Hispanic White women.1
  • Pregnancy-related mortality is higher in rural counties than urban counties.1
  • Thirty-six percent of all U.S. counties lack hospitals or birth centers offering obstetric care and without obstetric providers, with more than 60% of these occurring in rural counties.1
  • Thousands of women experience unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short or long-term consequences to their health.2
  • Four out of five pregnancy-related deaths are considered preventable.3

How do we promote maternal health?

White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis

In support of the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, HRSA commits to the following goals:

Goal 1: Increase access to and coverage of comprehensive high-quality maternal health services, including behavioral health services

  • Expand the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program.
  • Establish a national, confidential, 24-hour, toll-free hotline for pregnant individuals and new mothers facing mental health challenges.
  • Expand capacity to screen, assess, treat, and refer for maternal depression and behavioral disorders. 
  • Integrate behavioral health support such as navigators and community health workers into community settings. 

Goal 2: Ensure those giving birth are heard and are decision makers in accountable systems of care

  • Enroll every state in the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health program by 2023.
  • Implicit bias training for clinicians who provide maternal health care services. 
  • Conduct a study with the National Academy of Medicine to make recommendations for incorporating bias recognition in clinical skills testing for accredited schools of medicine. 
  • Implement Pregnancy Medical Home demonstration sites. 
  • Fund community-based organizations to support projects to expand maternal mental health access. 

Goal 3: Advance data collection, standardization, harmonization, transparency, and research

  • Collect more and better data on social determinants of health, while also streamlining and improving data quality reporting for health centers.
  • Fund research on rural maternal health and promote findings to local, state and national stakeholders.
  • Fund minority-serving institutions to study health disparities in maternal health outcomes and develop curricula for training health professionals. 

Goal 4: Expand and diversify the perinatal workforce

  • Train more family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology providers in underserved settings through the Primary Care Training and Enhancement – Community Prevention and Maternal Health Program.
  • Expand and diversify the number of nurses and certified midwives in underserved areas through programs such as Nurse Corps and Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students.
  • Increase the number of Community Health Workers and health support workers in underserved areas.
  • Identify areas within primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas with the highest need for maternity care health professionals and target resources there.
  • Grow and diversify the doula workforce. 
  • Increase support for family medicine rural residency programs that include obstetrics training. 

Goal 5: Strengthen economic and social supports for people before, during, and after pregnancy

  • Partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to connect eligible families that receive housing assistance or reside in public housing with access to maternal and child health programs, such as home visits from a nurse or social worker.
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