CT Takes Action to Improve Maternal Health

Connecticut is taking steps to bolster maternal health. The March of Dimes organization finds maternal health in the state improved through some policies, though the state has come up short with improving the preterm birth rate. Across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds significant disparitiesfor African American, Hispanic and multiracial women. One common experience of mistreatment is feeling ignored by healthcare professionals.

Daileann Hemmings, maternal health equity program director at Hartford Hospital, said one way Connecticut is working to correct this is by providing expecting parents with a ‘birth wishes’ document.

“So, with this document, they’ll be able to get it towards the latter part of their pregnancy, and they’ll be able to take a look at it and ask questions to their provider. Because, on it, it lists a number of things that can help in tailoring their birthing experience to what they hope it would be,” Hemmings said.

She noted one of the biggest challenges is that health equity officials are not present in all hospitals and added maternal health accessibility needs to be more of a priority. March of Dimes finds women in Connecticut have to travel more than 6.5 miles to get to the nearest hospital providing obstetric care.

In 2022, Governor Ned Lamont expanded Connecticut’s Medicaid program to also provide year-long postpartum care. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new pill designed specifically to treat postpartum depression.

Art Guerra, director of advanced practice with the Institute of Living, said a certain medicine has made a big difference.

“The zuranolone is quite notable is that the effectiveness can happen in a couple of days. Two to three days, there can be a reduction in depression symptoms, and that is a significant, significant difference,” Guerra explained.

Prior to this, Guerra said antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft were used to treat postpartum depression. But, whereas zuranolone takes a few days to work, those drugs would take three weeks to a month to be effective.

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