June 27, 2024

Coordinating Effective Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is the regular medical attention received during pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and baby. Early and consistent prenatal care greatly improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth, and it should begin even before conception with pre-pregnancy visits to a healthcare provider.

Image Credit:

During prenatal visits, expectant mothers undergo physical exams, weight checks, and provide urine samples. Depending on the pregnancy stage, healthcare providers may also conduct blood tests and ultrasounds. These visits cover the health of both mother and baby, helping to prevent and manage potential issues. However, certain demographics, such as those living in rural areas, racial and ethnic minorities, and those living in poverty, face certain disparities in receiving accessible healthcare, which increase the risk of pregnancy-associated complications due to the lack of proper check-ups and a multitude of other modifiable factors. Alternative ways to access obstetrical care providers and appropriate services are therefore essential to ensure all those who plan for pregnancy can do so safely.

What Prenatal Care Achieves

Despite higher incidences of low birth weight in the United States compared to other industrialized nations, birth-weight-specific survival rates are among the best globally thanks to the well-coordinated systems of hospital-based prenatal care.

Regular check-ups enable healthcare providers to identify and address potential problems like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and fetal growth restrictions. The Committee on Perinatal Health recommends early recognition and triage of these issues through comprehensive risk assessments that determine if the mother, fetus, or infant is at increased risk.

Continuous risk evaluation throughout pregnancy improves the link to appropriate inpatient care and helps to address and prevent conditions associated with morbidity and mortality before they become catastrophic, leading to better health outcomes for the mother and child. This, in turn, reduces the need for costly treatments, NICU admissions, and visits to the emergency departments, leading to substantial savings in healthcare costs.

Challenges in Accessing Prenatal Care

Accessing comprehensive prenatal care remains a significant challenge for many women, particularly those in rural areas. Factors such as geographic isolation, long travel times, and a shortage of qualified healthcare providers are just a few of the reasons why prenatal healthcare is poor or inadequate in these areas. The financial element of healthcare also impacts this demographic, with many of those who reside in rural healthcare deserts finding themselves facing substantial financial constraints and transportation difficulties, making it harder to attend regular prenatal appointments.

Significant disparities in prenatal care access are highlighted by studies demonstrating that first trimester prenatal care initiation was considerably higher among White and Asian women, compared to the notably lower figures for Black women, American Indian/Alaska Native women,  and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander women. The results show that Black and Hispanic women are two to four times more likely to receive five or fewer prenatal visits compared to white women.

Women not of Caucasian descent also report the highest number of stressful life events before birth and higher levels of chronic stress compared to white women. One survey, titled Listening to Mothers III, revealed that 40% of participants, most of whom are Black or Hispanic, experienced communication issues with their providers, and nearly one-quarter perceived discrimination during birth hospitalization.

Mother Goose Health’s Innovations in Prenatal Care

Mother Goose Health is transforming prenatal care by supporting mothers from the moment they learn they are pregnant. The platform integrates with electronic health records to automate workflows and provide proactive, evidence-based care that allows providers to monitor risks in real time.  

With its consumer-facing app, Mother Goose Health offers 24/7 support, collecting real-time data, and escalating rising-risks for intervention to facilitate better, more seamless healthcare. Through its integrated ecosystem of ancillary providers, community resources and closed-loop referral process, Mother Goose Health streamlines the process for patients and their providers in getting the right care at the right time.   

By creating the infrastructure to deliver culturally appropriate care and utilizing risk-responsive models, Mother Goose Health enables providers and payers to deliver personalized care at scale. The result is a 55% reduction in preterm births and 22% reduction in cesarean sections, as well as improved continuity of care, improved patient and provider satisfaction, and reduced cost of care.