New Edward-Elmhurst postpartum complications program educates new moms

August 31, 2020
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More mothers die from pregnancy-related complications in the United States than in any other developed country. An average of 73 women die each year in Illinois due to pregnancy-related complications.

A new Edward-Elmhurst Health (EEH) Postpartum Complications program combines Edward-Elmhurst’s Obstetrics and Emergency Departments, and local EMS providers to increase awareness among new moms and healthcare providers of the postpartum complications that new moms can experience.

Between birth and six weeks postpartum, specific complications can occur in new moms that many people are unaware of, such as:

  • Severe hypertension/preeclampsia (severe high blood pressure that may lead to a stroke)
  • Late postpartum hemorrhage (severe vaginal bleeding)
  • Untreated infections leading to sepsis (blood infection) which can cause multiple organ damage
  • Thrombolytic embolism (reduction in blood flow due to a blood clot)
  • Postpartum depression
  • Complications related to a substance use disorder, particularly opioid poisoning

If left untreated, these complications can lead to death.

“The Postpartum Complications program is designed to raise awareness among new moms,” says Pat Bradley, System Director, Women’s Services, Edward-Elmhurst Health. “As part of the discharge instructions, new moms are educated about the risk of postpartum complications that may occur between birth and six weeks and are encouraged to become more self-aware of the changes going on in their bodies during this time.”

New moms are also given a teal bracelet to wear until their six-week postpartum doctor’s appointment. The color teal represents female strength. If a new mom develops physical or emotional issues during that timeframe, the bracelet can help alert Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics and emergency department staff that she has recently given birth.

“The bracelets will help providers more easily identify these issues at the time of care, resulting in timely and appropriate treatments and improved outcomes,” says Dr. Tom Scaletta, Medical Director, Emergency Services.

Local EMS paramedics and Edward-Elmhurst Health emergency room doctors and clinical staff have been trained to look for the teal bracelet and to ask if a woman has recently given birth as part of her medical history – and coordinate with the Edward-Elmhurst Obstetrics departments as needed.

For more information about women’s services at Edward-Elmhurst Health, visit www.EEHealth.org/services/pregnancy-baby.