The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just launched Hear Hera campaign to bring attention to the maternal mortality crisis and hear the concerns of pregnant and postpartum women.

By Melissa Mills
August 18, 2020
pregnant woman talking to doctor in doctor's office
Credit: JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images

The United States is facing a maternal health crisis: Approximately 700 women die during pregnancy, at delivery, or soon after delivery each year. More than 60 percent of those pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching Hear Her, a national campaign to address maternal mortality issues. Supported through a partnership with the CDC Foundation and funded by Merck for Mothers, the program will provide education for health care providers, new and expecting mothers, and the friends and family that make up their support systems.

“Pregnancy and childbirth should not place a mother’s life in jeopardy, yet in far too many instances, women are dying from complications,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. “This seminal campaign is intended to disrupt the too-familiar pattern of preventable maternal mortality and encourage everyone in a woman’s life to be attentive and supportive of her health during this important time.”

Through Hear Her, pregnant women—as well as new moms in the postpartum period that lasts up to a year after childbirth—and those around them will learn how to recognize important warning signs of some of the most common causes of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. including preeclampsia, eclampsia, and hemorrhage. The campaign will also better equip health care professionals to communicate with their patients, hear their concerns, and act to prevent pregnancy-related complications.

According to the CDC, urgent maternal warning signs to watch for—and seek medical care for immediately—during pregnancy and in the year after delivery include:

  • A headache that persists or comes with blurred vision
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Changes in your vision
  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  • Extreme swelling of your hands or face
  • Thoughts about harming yourself or the baby
  • Trouble breathing
  • A slowdown in the unborn baby's movement
  • Severe nausea
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Extreme fatigue

“Listening and taking seriously the concerns of pregnant and postpartum women is a simple, yet powerful action that can save lives,” said Wanda Barfield, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Women know their bodies and can often tell when something is not right. We hope Hear Her will help people recognize maternal warning signs and quickly get the care women need.”

Visit the Hear Her website for more information—and potentially to save a life. And read’s full maternal health investigation here.

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