HELENA, Montana, September 15, 2023 — Montana lawmakers in the recently ended legislative session voted for a state budget that includes $6.2 million in state and federal funds over the next two years to extend continuous postpartum eligibility from 60 days to 12 months after pregnancy. That would ensure coverage for 1,000 to 2,000 additional parents in the state each year, according to federal and state estimates.
The American Heart Association joined other organizations, including Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in urging Montana lawmakers to prioritize postpartum Medicaid expansion. The measure passed with bipartisan support (17-6) in the House Appropriations Committee.
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms and extending Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months saves lives,” said Liz Albers, American Heart Association state government relations director. “By ensuring new parents have access to care during this time, our state is giving moms and their babies the best possible start in life.”
Pregnancy is often the first time many women see a physician on a regular basis, and these regular visits provide an opportunity to address chronic and pregnancy-related health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.
Knowing common symptoms and taking steps to stay healthy can reduce a mother’s risk of serious medical problems. Some normal postpartum symptoms can be similar to signs of underlying heart disease. Watching for changes and taking action is essential. If new moms have any concerns about their health or the health of their baby, they should consult their health care provider immediately.
Some complications show up days after delivery. For instance, heart rate and blood pressure normally decrease within 48 hours postpartum. But blood pressure may increase again three to six days later due to fluid shifts. During this period, new mothers should be monitored for complications.
Also, get medical help right away if any of these symptoms appear:
- Extreme headache
- Vision changes
- Fever of 100.4 or higher
- Swelling in hands or face
- Chest pain
- Severe swelling, redness or pain in a leg or arm
- Mental health issues
- Serious heart issues after delivery
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a pregnancy-related death as one that happens while a woman is pregnant or within a year of the end of a pregnancy. More than half of pregnancy-related deaths happen after childbirth.
The risk of dying of a pregnancy-related complication is low. But women with chronic conditions are at greater risk.
- Infographic: Maternal Death in the U.S.
- Infographic: Keeping Moms-To-Be and New Moms Safe and Healthy
- GoRedforWomen.org webpage: Pregnancy and Maternal Health
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org/montana, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries:
Jay Wintermeyer: 503.820.5309; Jay.Wintermeyer@heart.org