For Women’s Health Week, we’re releasing a two-part analysis of the current state of maternal health. Read Part I here.
The modern mom is facing different challenges than her mother did, and she’s looking for maternal health care that reflects that individual experience. As we transition to an ever more data-driven world, we’re also learning more about the pregnancy journey in general — things that have always been true about the pregnancy experience but deprioritized or under-researched in the past — and we need to change care to reflect that knowledge.
A difference in struggles.
Whether due to an actual change in culture and experience, or simply a result of more accurate reporting and available data, a greater number of women are entering pregnancy with pre existing conditions — especially mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which lead to poorer outcomes in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. The number of women experiencing both pregnancy complications and childbirth complications increased by 31.5% from 2014 to 2018, and the number of women diagnosed with postpartum depression increased by nearly 30%.
These numbers signify a demand for more holistic maternal health solutions that respond to every aspect of a woman’s health experience, including social determinants of health and mental wellness — from the time she starts thinking about having a baby to at least a year after childbirth.
I had preeclampsia with a prior pregnancy and I just appreciated being able to monitor my BP at home as needed, especially in the third trimester. In my last pregnancy, I was going to Walgreens to use those free BP testing stands so [remote monitoring] is a great option. Overall, it's made me less anxious and has limited my need for in-person visits."
- Babyscripts Mom
They also reinforce the importance of reevaluating what has, until recently, been the singular focus of maternal healthcare — the delivery of a healthy baby — to include and refocus on the health of the mother. All too often in the past, maternity care has been administered to mothers qua baby carriers, and not qua women.
A difference in lifestyle
We’ve moved far away from the nuclear family model of the 1950s, when mom stayed home with the kids while dad went to the office and paid the mortgage.
Millennial moms, in particular, are more likely to be in the workforce than at home with kids: only 35% of them identify as homemakers. About the same percentage are the primary breadwinners in their households, and a third of those are either unmarried, or not cohabitating with a partner.
Perhaps because they are not spending all their time at home, but busy balancing work, life, parenting, socializing, etc., the rising generation of moms value convenience above all. This is, after all, the generation that made Third Love, Blue Apron, Stitch Fix and a host of other convenience services trendy and successful.
Women are looking for this convenience and flexibility in their healthcare — and mobile health apps, remote patient monitoring devices, and tools that provide flexibility of scheduling are poised to take a competitive edge in the female market.
"Remote monitoring helps me keep the midwives informed of my health without the white coat syndrome negative effects I experience at in-person visits. That is important as assurance that I can have pregnancy and birth with as few medical interventions as necessary, which is a top priority for me."
Maternal health is women’s health — and it's a generation of women who live in different times and expect different things than their mothers — and maternal health solutions should reflect that.