The Maternal Health programs at Howard County Health Department strive to promote equitable access to health care and other resources needed to create healthy moms, healthy babies, and healthy families. From pregnancy planning and preconception care to cancer screenings and interventions, we work to empower our community through the whole reproductive life course to achieve individual health goals.
Maternal Health Providers: A HoCo Roundtable Discussion
Maternal Health Providers: A HoCo Roundtable. This Q&A roundtable includes Howard County birth workers and maternal health providers from a variety of practices. It is a must-watch for HoCo moms-to-be, their partners, and anyone who's ever wondered what having a baby is like in 2022.
Childbirth & Infant Health Education Classes for Moms and Moms-to-Be
HCHD and the Howard County Office of Children and Families are offering a limited number of scholarships for Howard County General Hospital's childbirth and infant health education classes. If you or someone you love is expecting, or recently welcomed a new baby, please complete this survey.
The goal of preconception health is to help women (and men!) achieve their health goals before they become pregnant. That means learning about your risk factors, preparing your body, and getting any chronic health conditions under control.
When does preconception health start? Now!
Watch our Preconception Care: A HoCo Health Webinar
- Steps to be a Healthier Me (CDC guide)
- How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy - Howard County General Hospital video
How to be Healthier
Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and using other substances can all have harmful effects on an unborn baby and quitting before pregnancy can greatly improve your baby’s health. Quitting is hard. If you’re struggling with cigarettes, alcohol, or substance use, check out the resources below.
- SAMHSA Beahvioral Health Treatment Services Locator
- HCHD Tobacco Control Program
- HCHD Peer Recovery Support
Not Ready to Be a Parent? Not Ready for Another Baby?
That is part of preconception care, too! Planned pregnancies are healthier pregnancies and there are lots of ways, from natural to medical, that give you the power to choose when to get pregnant. Learn about your options and decide which one is right for you.
Prenatal care is the care you get during your pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy. Often that care is provided by OB/Gyn doctors, but it can also be provided by Family Practice doctors, Midwives or Nurse Practitioners.
Recent research shows that expanding prenatal care to embrace a community-based care model can improve birth outcomes, especially for families of color. Community-based prenatal care includes the providers above, along with Centering Pregnancy practices, doulas, and lactation specialists. Picking a model and provider that supports you, can lead to a healthier mom and baby!
- Office on Women's Health - Prenatal Care and Tests
- March of Dimes - Prenatal Care and Check-ups
- Centering Healthcare Institute
- Doulas - National Black Doulas Association
- Birth Companions - Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
If you feel like you could use some more support during your pregnancy, or more resources and education about parenting, Howard County Office of Children and Families has two Home Visiting Programs that may be a good fit.
While you may only be pregnant for three trimesters, your body, mind, and life don’t immediately return to the pre-pregnancy state. There are many physical and mental challenges that take place in the postpartum period as your body heals and you and your baby adjust to each other. Many birth professionals have taken to thinking of this period as “The 4th Trimester”.
The new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines call for improved postpartum care for women during this period and recommend contact with your health care provider within three weeks of delivery and a complete postpartum check up within 12 weeks. During these visits, its important to discuss any post-partum warning signs that could lead to major issues.
Lots of women experience “Baby Blues”, periods of weepiness and feelings of being overwhelmed, in the one to two weeks after delivery. This is a result of the big swings in hormone levels a mother’s body experiences after giving birth. If you feel empty, sad all of the time, have trouble bonding with your baby, or have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, you might have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression affects as many as 1 in 7 women and even 1 in 10 men following the birth of a new baby. If you are feeling this way, finding a support group, starting counseling, or being prescribed medication can help.
- Office of Women's Health - Postpartum Depression
- Mental Health Resources for Mothers (English)
- Recursos de Salud Mental para Madres (Español)
Feeding your baby seems like the most natural thing to do but creating a successful and fulfilling breastfeeding relationship with your newborn can be tough. Finding support in your community or possibly seeking professional assistance can help you achieve your breastfeeding goals.
Continuum of Care
Caring for yourself and your baby doesn’t end after you come home from your 6-week postpartum checkup. Your baby needs regular health check screenings with their pediatrician, a series of important childhood vaccinations, and a safe place to sleep, play, and ride in the car. Your health matters, too! Continuing to see a primary care provider for routine checkups, management of chronic health conditions, and critical cancer screenings is a key part of maintaining a healthy family. Whether or not you are planning on having more children, learning about, and selecting the right birth control option is an important part of your reproductive health.
Community Support & Information
Finding a community of support and information you can trust can be very beneficial as you raise your family and make health decisions. There are many community support websites and forums available online. (When choosing information to read online, make sure to think about your resources- what are the credentials of the author? Do they benefit financially from providing information? Is there research supporting the opinion? When in doubt, talk to your health care provider to learn more.)