The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching Hear Her, a national campaign that brings attention to pregnancy-related deaths and provides education and encouragement to pregnant and postpartum women (within one year of delivery).
The campaign seeks to raise awareness of potentially life-threatening warning signs during and after a woman’s pregnancy. Hear Her will empower pregnant and postpartum women to speak up when something does not feel right, and encourage the people supporting them to listen carefully and act when they hear their concerns.
Approximately 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy-related complications. There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related complications and deaths. American Indian/Alaska Native and Black women are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than white women. Considering that 2 out of 3 of these deaths can be prevented, much pain and heartbreak could be avoided.
“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.”
Listening and acting quickly can save lives
Recognizing urgent maternal warning signs and getting an accurate and timely diagnosis can save lives during pregnancy and up to a year after delivery.
The Hear Her campaign encourages women’s partners, friends, family, and healthcare providers to listen to their concerns and engage in important conversations with them. The campaign features compelling personal stories from women of diverse backgrounds who experienced severe pregnancy-related complications.
“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 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.”
Everyone has a role to play in preventing pregnancy-related deaths.
- If you are pregnant or were pregnant within the last year and feel that something is wrong, talk to your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing an urgent maternal warning sign highlighted on the Hear Her website, get medical care immediately. Continue to share your concerns until you are heard, and your questions are answered.
- Partners, friends, and family can help loved ones get the care they may need and learn the warning signs that indicate immediate medical care is needed.
- Healthcare providers can listen to patients and make sure concerns are adequately addressed.
Maternal mortality prevention
Maternal health is a complex public health issue that requires a multifaceted solution. The Hear Her campaign is one of many strategies that CDC, other federal partners, and numerous organizations around the country are working on to prevent maternal mortality.
This campaign is supported through a partnership with the CDC Foundation and by funding from Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through its Merck for Mothers program.