Preventing maternal and infant mortality in Georgia is a top priority for health care providers in the state.
Georgia already has the nation’s highest maternal mortality rate, with more than 46 deaths per 100,000 live births, and ranks 16th for infant mortality.
In Lawrenceville, Obria Medical Clinics has what it calls a Supportive Pregnancy Care program, where people meet monthly in two-hour group sessions during pregnancy.
Robin Mauck, executive director of Obria, said they ask questions, learn how to take their own vital signs, and also meet with their providers for checkups.
“And then, March of Dimes has provided a curriculum that our facilitator goes through that has been proven to reduce maternal mortality,” Mauck explained. “The great thing we see in this program is, it creates community for these girls. A lot of them don’t have support in the community, they don’t have family close by.”
Mauck pointed out the group discussions help the participants build confidence, and the clinic also offers resources to help ensure new parents can take the best care of themselves and their babies.
Shelmekia Hodo, maternal and infant health director for the March of Dimes, said her organization is also focused on reducing health inequities in Georgia, with programs to address postpartum care and preterm birth, plus maternal and infant mortality.
One is a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Support program, to help improve the experience for new parents. Hodo noted the program has been around for more than 20 years, with more than 70 sites across the country.
“March of Dimes provides an in-house coordinator that is on-site in the NICU, that does patient education with the actual moms, as well as staff education,” Hodo outlined. “We know that so many moms are facing so many challenges and barriers having to be away from their babies, with their babies being in the NICU.”
She added Georgia took a big step last year to address the maternal mortality rate, by extending Medicaid coverage to low-income mothers to a full year after giving birth, instead of only six months.
Maternal mortality study Georgia State Univ. 12/13/2021
Senate Bill 338 (2022) 05/13/2022
Announcement Ga. Dept. of Community Health 12/16/2022
Ga. birth rate Macrotrends 2023
This story was written by Danielle Smith, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.