How Maternal Health Fits Into Early Learning & Development

  • Through a significant investment with NYC Health + Hospitals — the largest public hospital system in the city — and with Mount Sinai, we are funding a pilot of a community-based doula program in Queens, to integrate these supportive workers into clinical settings. Doulas, who are recruited from the same communities as patients, follow and support women from when they start receiving prenatal care through the first year of postpartum, providing emotional support during a stressful period. They also help link them to resources like food pantries, housing, and transportation. Emerging research shows that doulas can help reduce the racial gap in health outcomes for moms and babies by advocating on their behalf. We want to scale this pilot to further build the evidence that doulas are effective in driving improvements in health with the goal of having these services become a standard part of hospital care.
  • In the Bronx, we’re working with Montefiore Medical Center to integrate community health workers into the spaces where mothers and families engage — obstetrics, pediatrics, and women’s health — and support families as they navigate the complex health care system. Our ambitious goal is to help create a center of excellence for community health workers, so there’s a more standardized curriculum and training that integrates early childhood and evidence-based practices.
  • Centering Pregnancy at One Brooklyn Health gathers women who are at similar stages of their pregnancy together. When a woman comes in for her prenatal visit, she meets with a clinician, then a nurse who provides a group session where women share their experiences from challenges with breastfeeding to warning signs for postpartum issues. Bringing together mothers who are experiencing similar things provides unique social support, and Centering has been shown to reduce rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality. We’re also embedding HealthySteps, a model that integrates an early childhood specialist into OBH’s pediatric care, to help flag developmental issues and a mother’s symptoms of depression.
  • We’re also investing in reducing rates of postpartum depression through NYU School of Medicine’s pilot of Reach Out, Stay Strong, Essentials (ROSE), a program that prevents maternal depression at the onset by identifying women who may be at risk of developing depression. Pregnant women gather for five sessions to talk about how to cope with stress, communicate effectively and build a social support network. There’s evidence that this model can reduce the onset of maternal depression by about 50%. While currently the model is being piloted within the Latinx and Chinese communities in Sunset Park, if we’re able to scale it across the city, this program could have a real impact on reducing depression rates among all low-income women.




Fighting poverty in New York City since 1988.

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Fighting poverty in New York City since 1988.

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