WASHINGTON — Starting Oct. 1, Veterans will have access to maternity care coordinators from the beginning of their pregnancy to 12 months post-partum — an expansion from the previous end-date of 8 weeks post-partum. These coordinators help Veterans navigate health care inside and outside of VA, connect Veterans with care after delivery, ensure access to follow-up screenings, and more. This means that all new mothers will have the support and resources they need from VA, regardless of where they give birth.
This expansion is a key step toward improving maternal outcomes for Veterans and part of the work that VA is doing to implement the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. In addition to these maternity care coordinators, VA provides Veterans with the full range of maternity care services throughout pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum – including primary care, exams, tests, ultrasounds, newborn care, lactation support, and more.
Women Veterans are the fastest-growing cohort of Veterans who use VA, and VA currently provides health care to approximately 600,000 women Veterans — half of whom are of child-bearing age. Pregnancies in women Veterans using VA care have increased by more than 80% since 2014, from 6,950 pregnancies in 2014 to 12,524 in 2022.
“This expansion of care coordination is a critical step toward improving outcomes for Veteran mothers and their newborn children,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough. “Now, Veteran mothers will know that they have one-on-one support throughout every step of their pregnancy — from the day it begins to one year postpartum.”
“Evidence shows that new mothers often need support and care coordination long after 8 weeks post-partum, which is why VA is taking action to support Veteran mothers for much longer after they give birth,” said Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, MD. “We will also screen pregnant and postpartum Veterans for social determinants of health, mental health risk factors, relationship health and safety, and more.”
“Extended follow-up care for postpartum Veterans is a great step forward, given that a significant proportion of poor maternal outcomes happen later in the postpartum period,” said Acting Chief Officer for VA Office of Women’s Health Sally Haskell, MD. “Extending postpartum care coordination up to one year allows VA maternity care coordinators the ability to double the amount of contact with their patients to help improve the physical and mental health of both parent and child.”
VA maternity care coordinators also screen for social, physical, and mental health concerns; answer questions about billing; provide resources for childbirth education; and offer lactation consulting during pregnancy and after delivery.
VA understands the importance of having a solid support system during and after pregnancy, so along with extended maternity care, the department offers essential wraparound services. In addition to primary care, this incudes access to mental health care, housing assistance, and resources to address food insecurity. Learn more about VA maternity care coordination.
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