Good Nutrition is Essential to Solving the U.S. Maternal Health Crisis

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2022

The U.S. and Serbia share an unfortunate distinction among developed nations: they are the only two countries where maternal mortality rates have increased since 1990.1 In fact, each year, more than 4,000,000 women give birth in the U.S., and about 700 of them die due to complications during pregnancy while giving birth or during the post-partum period. Another 70,000 women experience near-fatal complications after giving birth.2

The United States is mired in a crisis in maternal health, and the worst part is that most maternal deaths and complications are preventable.

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 CMS followed its lead this summer with its sweeping action plan to improve maternal health outcomes. Meanwhile, private and government insurers are working on better supports that help pregnant women have healthier pregnancies, deliveries, and post-partum periods.

Many such programs focus on making better nutrition more accessible for at-risk women during and after pregnancy. It’s more than simply putting food on the table. Nutritional support helps pregnant women maintain a healthy diet and also impacts 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.

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 and blood pressure control
  • Address SDOH

And for health plans, good nutrition helps to:

  • Support a holistic approach to maternal and child health
  • Lower the cost of pre-and post-natal care by minimizing high-cost utilization such as emergency transportation, ED, IP, Observation, and NICU
  • Impact highest risk, hardest-to-engage members
  • Drive postnatal HEDIS measures 

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 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 answer. Home-delivered meals not only ensure good nutrition, but they 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.

Mom’s Meals®’ expertise in home-delivered meals and medically-tailored menus is one solution. We partner with health plans to build nutrition programs for all of their pregnant members. These 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 C-section or adjusting to motherhood.

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