Ensure Health through the Continuum of Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum

Despite possessing ample knowledge and technology to provide exceptional health care, the United States lags behind other industrial nations in providing quality care to women throughout the reproductive continuum. Maternal and child healthcare affected by events along a life-course continuum, beginning with preconception care and continuing through the prenatal, perinatal, postnatal, postpartum, and interconception periods.

Across the reproductive health continuum, poor maternal and infant health outcomes are consistently tied to adverse socioeconomic factors and systemic barriers. Adverse maternal and child health outcomes result in medical and socioeconomic burdens for women, their families, and their communities, particularly for low-income people of color. U.S. cities bear the brunt of this burden; city fertility rates are higher than the national average, and rates for key outcomes such as low birthweight and infant mortality exceed national averages, resulting in an urban reproductive health deficit with far-reaching consequences. Addressing women’s health throughout the continuum ensures that all women will achieve and maintain optimal health before, during, and beyond their reproductive years, regardless of their childbearing plans.

Local Recommendations:

Investing in and promoting reproductive health throughout the life-course continuum reduces the incidence of adverse outcomes for both women and their children, creating a foundation of good health within our communities. Successfully achieving optimal urban maternal health requires dynamic approaches to health care along the continuum and strong political commitment at the city and county levels. As evidenced in many urban areas, innovative and creative thinking and collaboration can facilitate the implementation of safe reproductive health interventions and ensure their sustainable integration into the health care system.
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© 2012 National Institute for Reproductive Health