Maternal Health Awareness Day reminds us all about the life-saving support and advocacy needed to protect expectant mothers and birthing people.

Across the globe, countless women face challenges and risks in accessing maternal healthcare. Nurses play a pivotal role in the fight to improve maternal health. Learn more about what nurses do to make a significant difference.

Advocate & Educate

Nurses have a unique position as advocates of women’s health and are reliable sources of information. At the bedside and in the community, nurses:

  • Educate expectant mothers and birthing people and their families about prenatal and postpartum care
  • Empower them to make informed decisions, and
  • Guide women through proactive steps to maintain a healthy

These efforts often include advising on regular reproductive health screenings, nutrition, exercise, and mental health support.

Offer Holistic Prenatal Care

Nurses increasingly provide comprehensive, person-centered prenatal care that goes beyond routine visits. The compassion given is non-judgmental and allows nurses to gain trust. Their insight then sheds light on any underlying social, economic, or emotional challenges that may impact a mother’s health and well-being. This holistic approach gives nurses insight to address potential stressors and provide resources and referrals that ensure a whole-person approach to care.

Assess Risk Level and Intervene Early

An essential nursing role is to identify and monitor potential complications. Nurses intervene early to manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. They also consider an expectant woman’s risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or mental health concerns and seek solutions.

At your next prenatal appointment, ask the nurse to share your vital health numbers, including your:

  • Temperature
  • Blood pressure reading
  • Urine and any blood test results
  • Ultrasound outcomes

Your nurse is your ally in detecting problems early. Feel confident that your nurse will lead the way ensuring you get the medical attention you need for the best health for you and your baby.

Give Emotional and Mental Health Support

For decades nurses have been on the frontlines offering emotional support to expectant mothers and birthing people. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time filled with overwhelming physical, emotional, and mental health changes. Nurses are the leaders in providing a listening ear, validating concerns, and sharing guidance in addressing common mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Nurses also reduce the stigma associated with seeking professional mental health support.

Wraparound Postpartum Care and Continuity

The postpartum period is a sacred time, yet it often receives less attention than prenatal care. Nurses bridge the gap in providing comprehensive postpartum care that includes monitoring physical and emotional well-being, supporting breastfeeding, and creating access to community resources, such as groups to support nursing moms. From birth to baby’s first birthday, nurses are essential to significantly improving long-term maternal health outcomes.

Collaborate and Share Information

Nurses are key players along with doctors and midwives in providing the best and latest evidence-based care for expectant mothers and birthing people. They also collaborate with nurse practitioners, doulas, lactation consultants, and other healthcare professionals.

Foster Equity

Nurses are activists for every woman and birthing person, ensuring access to quality healthcare. They provide culturally sensitive care, promote comprehensive health education, and empower women to make informed decisions. They understand that social status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and country of birth can be the reasons for unequal care, so they strive to ensure everyone receives the respectful care and support they deserve.

On Maternal Health Awareness Day, we recognize the priceless contributions and thank nurses for the vital role they play in improving care for women and their newborns.

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Author

Shawana S. Moore, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, PNAP, is a women’s health nurse practitioner. She serves as an Associate Professor and the DNP Program Director at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson School of Nursing. She is passionate about equitable, respectful, and inclusive maternal-child care.

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