‘Hear Her’ campaign raises awareness about pregnancy, postpartum complications

Hear Her campaign raises awareness about pregnancy, postpartum complications

Hear Her campaign raises awareness about pregnancy, postpartum complications

The Minnesota Department of Health is amplifying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Hear Her” campaign in the state.

It highlights urgent warning signs during and after pregnancy while raising awareness that about 700 women die from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. every year.

“I’ve had so many friends who have been pregnant who have said to their provider like, ‘What are you going to do to make sure I don’t die?’ and no one should have to ask that question,” said Dr. Rachel Hardeman, the director for the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota. She has also served on the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

“Approximately 80% of these maternal deaths are preventable and so there is no reason that anyone should be fearful of losing their life, fearful of severe maternal complications during pregnancy, during childbirth, during the year postpartum,” Hardeman added.

The campaign points out Black birthing people make up 13% of the birthing population in Minnesota but 27% of pregnancy-related deaths from 2017 to 2019.

“I think this campaign can play a really important role in helping to educate all of us and really create scenarios for providers to ask pointed questions,” Hardeman said.

The social media posts feature well-known athletes, such as track star Allyson Felix, who has been open about her pregnancy complications. The campaign encourages physicians and loved ones to listen when a pregnant person feels something is wrong.

“No one is a better expert in their own body than someone like Serena Williams or Allyson Felix. These high-profile athletes, their body is their instrument, they’re using it every day,” Hardeman said. “I think it’s a really important point, and it tells us we have to trust women. We have to trust that they know what’s going on with their bodies.”

The campaign highlights warning signs such as:

  • Persistent or worsening headaches
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Vision changes
  • High fever
  • Extreme swelling of hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or rapid heart rate
  • Severe nausea or throwing up
  • Severe belly pain
  • Slowed or stopped baby movements
  • Bleeding
  • Overwhelming tiredness
  • Redness or pain in your arm or leg
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or baby

“We know that some symptoms in pregnancy and in postpartum can mimic normal signs and symptoms of pregnancy,” said Jennifer Almanza, a certified nurse midwife who co-chairs the state Maternal Mortality Review Committee. “And so we know moms know themselves best. We want them to feel empowered to really express those concerns. We really want everyone surrounding that pregnant person to know that they can really do a world of good by listening.”

Rachael McGraw, a women’s health consultant for the Minnesota Department of Health, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there needs to be continued vigilance postpartum. 

“In Minnesota, most people who die of complications related to pregnancy are actually dying the year postpartum,” McGraw said. “That’s a time when people have less contact with the healthcare system in general and so that’s why friends and family are included in this so when someone doesn’t feel quite right, they can help get them to the care they need.”