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What You need to know to Reduce Infant Mortality

Truman Medical Centers/University Health has registered nurses dedicated to Community Health programs which help women gain access to education and early prenatal care. Our nurses focus on helping families bring healthy babies into the world.

September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. We recently asked Raechel Blades, RN, questions about this important topic to provide valuable information to expectant and new moms on ways to reduce infant mortality. Raechel splits her duties between our Women’s Health Department and our Community Health Strategies and Innovation Department.

Q: During an exciting time when a mom is pregnant, no one wants to think about a difficult topic like Infant Mortality. Why is it so important to raise awareness about it?

A: September is National Infant Mortality Month. Healthcare providers like myself want to raise awareness because there are ways we can help decrease the number of babies who die before their first birthday. Some of the main causes include (per the CDC):

  • Birth abnormalities
  • Preterm birth & low birth weight infants
  • Maternal pregnancy complications
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Injuries

Q: What are some of the things that can affect a family before, during and after pregnancy?

A: Recently, the healthcare community has started to look at what are called social determinants of health. It’s been discovered that 80% of your health is determined by social needs, such as money, transportation, food, as well as your health behaviors. These sorts of social determinants can influence women’s access to adequate and accessible healthcare.

Q: But what can be done to help make sure all moms get the chance to have healthy babies?

A: That’s where I and other community health nurses come in. We are working to ensure women have access to early prenatal care. We also educate women on the importance of their own health before, during and after pregnancy. Then once baby comes, we help educate families on adequate newborn care and local resources. This work can reach even more women when we have the support of the community behind us.

Q: What, specifically, does Truman Medical Centers do to help moms?

A: Both of our hospitals are dedicated to providing the best care and experience to moms and their babies. That includes a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Lakewood and a Level III NICU at our downtown location in the Health Sciences District, both staffed by Children’s Mercy Neonatologist and Neonatal Nurse Practitioners. The Health Sciences District services as a regional referral center for high-risk pregnancies and is staffed with Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists. Our downtown location is also connected to Children’s Mercy’s Level IV NICU, the highest level there is, by a physical bridge we call the Bridge of Hope. Both campuses are also Baby-Friendly, which means we help promote healthy feeding choices for newborns by offering education on breastfeeding before, during and after delivery.

Q: Why is it so important for expectant moms to meet with someone like you?

A: I meet with women while they are pregnant and help them learn about their pregnancy and understand any complications they may have. That means I help educate them on any medical conditions that might affect their pregnancy. But my work doesn’t stop once baby arrives. I also provide health education for both mom and baby postpartum. I help moms learn to recognize the signs of possible health emergencies that might come when they’re pregnant, or might happen to the baby. But my most important job is being a healthcare guide these women can trust through their pregnancy and their baby’s first year.

  • Resources
    • Truman Medical Centers

  • Kansas City Healthy Start Program

  • Kansas City Health Department

  • March of Dimes

  • Healthy People 2020

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