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MDH launches 'Hear Her' campaign to reduce pregnancy-related deaths

This year, too many Minnesotans will die from pregnancy-related complications. And in nearly all cases, those deaths are preventable.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is bringing the Hear Her campaign to Minnesota to raise awareness of the urgent maternal warning signs that can lead to pregnancy-related complications and deaths, particularly for Black people who are pregnant or recently gave birth and too often do not have their concerns taken seriously. MDH is promoting and amplifying this CDC campaign through sharing co-branded materials and ads statewide.

Black Minnesotans represent 13% of the birthing population but made up 27% of the 75 pregnancy-associated deaths from 2017 to 2019, according to an MDH report on maternal mortality (PDF).

“In one of the healthiest states in the country, Black women are dying at a rate that far exceeds their share of the population,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “We are bringing the campaign to Minnesota because we can all play a role in doing more to hear, learn and act on preventing these deaths.”

People know their bodies and can often tell when something is not right. Every pregnancy is different, and while some symptoms may seem normal, new and worsening symptoms should be checked as soon as possible. It’s also important to discuss concerns with a health care provider.

The Hear Her campaign encourages partners, friends, family, health care providers and anyone who supports people during or after pregnancy to listen to their concerns. Acting quickly could help save a life, and everyone has a role to play.

• Women and their friends and family can know and communicate the warning symptoms, such as severe belly pain, fever, vaginal bleeding or thoughts about harming yourself or your baby.

• Health care providers can help patients manage chronic conditions and have ongoing conversations about the warning signs of complications. They can listen to patients and make sure concerns are adequately addressed. MDH's new Hear Her webpage offers tools for obstetric providers, pediatric staff and other health care professionals.

• Hospitals and health systems can play an important coordination role, encouraging cross-communication and collaboration among health care providers. They can also work to improve delivery of quality care before, during and after pregnancy as well as standardize approaches for responding to obstetric emergencies. As part of the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act effective January 2023, MDH partnered with the University of Minnesota Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity to provide health care professionals eLearning courses about the effect of bias and structural racism on maternal health.

• Communities can address factors affecting parents and families, such as access to housing, health care and transportation services. In addition, Minnesota supports a statewide Maternal Mortality Review Committee to review the causes behind every maternal death and identify actions to prevent future deaths. Other Minnesota efforts include the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative, the Maternal Health Task Force and the Innovations for Maternal Health Outcomes in Minnesota (I-MOM) program. Mortality is a complex public health issue that requires a combination of solutions.

MDH started placing Hear Her ads in April. The campaign will run throughout the summer. Hear Her is one element of a comprehensive strategy by CDC to reduce pregnancy-related complications and deaths. The amplification of this campaign is one of several activities coordinated by MDH through the support of the Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality.



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