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Good nutrition is essential to addressing the US maternal health crisis

Improving access to better nutrition can play an important role in supporting maternal health and helping more women have healthier pregnancies and deliveries.

August 18, 2023

Good nutrition is essential to addressing the US maternal health crisis

A recent report noted in 2020 the U.S. experienced the highest rate of maternal mortality compared to other high income countries. The country is facing a maternal health crisis, and the worst part is, four out of five pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented.

What's being done to address this critical issue? At the national level, the White House has introduced its blueprint for battling maternal mortality, and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has joined in this mission by taking a holistic look at its policies and programs to identify opportunities to enhance maternity care delivered to enrollees in Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Health Insurance Marketplace®. Specifically, CMS is working to improve access to quality care, especially for minority women who are dying from pregnancy-related complications more frequently.

Making nutrition more accessible

Food insecurity during pregnancy is associated with a host of often preventable medical problems for mother and baby including birth defects, gestational complications, low-birth weight and postpartum depression. To help combat this, many programs are focusing on improving the access to better nutrition for at-risk women during and after pregnancy.

Going beyond just putting food on the table, nutritional support helps pregnant women maintain a healthy diet and can impact health factors that shape pregnancy outcomes, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, obesity and other comorbidities. Access to better nutrition also helps reduce stress, save time and improve convenience for pregnant women and new mothers who need to focus on their newborn's health — and their own.

The power of proper nutrition

Many women in this country do not meet the recommendations for proper nutrition and weight before and during pregnancy. Pregnant women need to eat better, not necessarily more, where their diets are full of nutrient-rich options that support their health and the development of their growing babies. Bottom line, good nutrition is paramount to improving outcomes for mothers, babies — and even insurers.

For pregnant women, proper nutrition helps:

  • Support healthy fetal development
  • Improve ability to carry to full term
  • Reduce health risks and complications for mother and baby, even after delivery
  • Facilitate adherence to dietary guidelines for conditions like diabetes
  • Promote A1c (blood sugar control) and blood pressure control
  • Address social determinants of health (SDOH)

And for health plans, good nutrition helps to:

  • Support a holistic approach to maternal and child health
  • Lowers the cost of pre- and postnatal care through minimizing high-cost utilization such as emergency transportation, emergency department visits, inpatient stays, observation and neonatal intensive care unit
  • Impact highest risk, hardest-to-engage members
  • Drive postnatal Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set measures

Combatting food insecurity

Research shows that good nutrition during and after pregnancy drives better outcomes, including healthier pregnancies, fewer complications during and after delivery and healthier babies and moms.

The key is making that nutrition affordable, convenient and accessible to pregnant women, especially those who face food insecurity due to SDOH. Insurance, government and community programs demonstrate that home-delivered meals are one solution.

Home-delivered meals not only help ensure good nutrition, but they can also reduce stress on pregnant women and support new mothers as they adjust to caring for their babies and themselves while they heal from delivery. A fully prepared home-delivered meals program helps make it easy to eat properly and adhere to condition-appropriate eating guidelines.

Making the case: Simply Healthcare home-delivered meals pilot

Simply Healthcare, a Florida-based HMO serving Medicaid programs in Florida, partnered with Mom's Meals® for a year to provide home-delivered meals to support “Taking Care of Baby and Me”, a maternal health program targeting high-risk members.

Participation

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Mom's Meals can help

Leverage our expertise in medically tailored meals interventions

We can help health plans build nutrition programs for their pregnant members. Our home-delivered, medically tailored meals aren’t just for at-risk women, they’re ideal for pregnant women and new mothers whether they’re facing food insecurity, managing a chronic condition, recovering from a delivery or adjusting to motherhood. By offering more comprehensive support, including nutrition, we can work toward eliminating the maternal health crisis and helping more women thrive during pregnancy and beyond.

Free brochure: The Importance of Nutritional Support for Better Maternal Health

Free brochure: The Importance of Nutritional Support for Better Maternal Health

Learn more about the role of nutrition and what factors shape a mother’s health and her baby’s well-being from birth well into the future.

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