Preparing for the Future of Maternity Care

To help innovate maternal health care systems change and respond to challenges that COVID-19 has uncovered, WHAMglobal has joined Birth Place Lab's Global Perinatal Task Force. WHAMglobal is excited to engage with this multi-disciplinary group of global experts and take part in shared learning and global maternal health preparedness. The Task Force aims to identify whether collective international wisdom, expertise, and lived experience can offer value as we navigate the reorganization and redistribution of maternal health care services and resources.

The Global Perinatal Task Force also serves to build a massive rapid-response network to prepare advocates for future crises like COVID-19, which has profoundly affected those connected to maternal health care. Since the early days of the pandemic, birthing families have braved unprecedented challenges as they navigate a chapter already filled with excitement and anxiety. Birth providers and advocates have worked tirelessly to ensure that people giving birth are supported both mentally and physically. Maternal health care systems have had to rapidly respond and change policies around birth worker licensure, availability of telemedicine, and their models of delivering care. These seismic shifts happened out of necessity and we are now faced with critical questions about our future responses to birthing families' needs, as Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead & Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, emphasized in an op-ed for Scientific American. Once the immediate threat of COVID-19 abates, we will be left with a choice: to return to previous models of care or to innovate with what we have learned.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation's newest ROOTS publication, Beyond Medicalization: Midwives and Maternity Care in America, raises critical considerations in creating alternative options for maternal health care. We may find that changes to maternal health care delivery during COVID-19 could translate to a developing, redesigned model that expands access for more birthing families in America. Maternity care will look very different after COVID-19, and the changes we observe today could inform proactive movements and decisions for future support of birthing families.

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