Maternal health trends in America: here’s what you need to know

June 18, 2020
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Regence expert shares tips and resources for maintaining a safe pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Regence

Millions of women give birth each year and most have healthy pregnancies and problem-free births. However, a recent study from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows a greater number of women are entering pregnancy with preexisting conditions and that medical complications are rising.

According to the report,* the number of women experiencing both pregnancy and childbirth complications increased more than 31% between 2014 and 2018, affecting seven out of every 1,000 women. In addition, the prevalence of chronic physical conditions diagnosed before pregnancy, such as hypertension and Type II diabetes, along with behavioral health conditions like anxiety and major depression, increased the risk of other complications.

COVID-19’s impact on expecting mothers

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected prenatal care and delivery experiences to ensure the safety of all family members. In a recent survey conducted by the BCBSA, women reported the following changes:

  • 61% experienced limited office hours from their doctors
  • 48% had to shift their care appointments to virtual visits
  • 53% were not able to have a loved one in the delivery room with them
  • 15% shifted to a home birth option to avoid a traditional hospital setting

And for many mothers, challenges continue postpartum.

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Today, nearly one in 10 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, which the BCBSA reports is up almost 30% since 2014. Risk factors for postpartum depression may be exacerbated by the current pandemic as expecting mothers grapple with fear of childbirth, concerns over finances or health and dealing with stressful life events. If left untreated, postpartum depression can have adverse effects on both mother and child.

Regence expert shares tips and resources for soon-to-be mothers

Regence’s Director of Clinical Services, Jamie Halstead, urges those who are pregnant to take extra precautions during this time, following recommendations from their doctors and seeking out additional support when needed.

“With COVID-19, expect some differences when it comes to your care and steps taken by your provider to keep you and your baby safe,” she says. “This may include changes to your appointment schedule for routine care, virtual check-ins and other necessary precautions.”

Jamie shares more tips and resources available to Regence members in this video:

Maternal support is available to Regence members

Whether you’re a new mother, or you’ve been down this road before, Regence is here to support you every step of the way. Regence members have access to BabyWise, a pregnancy and parenting mobile app that connects members to key maternity resources, health trackers and clinical health milestones. Members can also access a 24/7 nurse line for personalized support and set reminders for prenatal appointments.

Additionally, our team of maternity nurses is available to answer your questions and help you work through any issues during your pregnancy or after your baby arrives. Sign in at regence.com or call Regence Customer Service at the number on the back of your member ID card to learn about your health plan benefits.

*The report is based on data from BCBS Axis, a database of medical claims from more than 48 million members of Blue Cross Blue Shield companies with employer-provided health insurance coverage, from 2014 to 2018. This is the 31st study of the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report® series. For more information, visit bcbs.com/the-health-of-america.

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