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Maternity experiences impacted by COVID-19 as pregnancy complications rise

Health of America report finds double-digit increases in complications are related to pre-existing conditions

FARGO, N.D. – The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting women's maternity experience at a time when pregnancy complications were already rising by double digits. The double-digit increases, analyzed in the Health of America report by Blue Cross Blue Shield and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND), are attributed to expecting mothers bringing pre-existing conditions into their pregnancies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way providers deliver prenatal care,” said BCBSND Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Glasner, formerly an OB/GYN. “Things like drive-up prenatal visits were born out of necessity but could open the door to new and convenient maternity education and care.”

The pandemic greatly impacted the health care experience for expecting mothers:

  • One in four women missed a prenatal visit
  • 48% of women shifted their prenatal appointments to virtual visits
  • 53% reported that they could not have a loved one in the delivery room with them
  • 15% delivered their baby at home

The Health of America report reveals pregnancy and childbirth complications increased by more than 30% between 2014 and 2018. The study also found pregnant moms with complicated pregnancies were twice as likely to have childbirth complications, which is attributed to women bringing chronic physical and behavioral health conditions into pregnancy. Similarly, after childbirth, mothers saw nearly a 30% increase in postpartum depression diagnoses, with the diagnoses being most prevalent in women aged 18-24.

“This report underscores the importance of women’s health, especially as health conditions increase in this population—increasing the likelihood of pregnancy and childbirth complications and postpartum depression,” says Glasner. “Access to quality care is critical to helping women lead healthier lives, have healthier pregnancies and uncomplicated births.”

Millennial women make up 85% of all pregnancies in the U.S., according to The Health of Millennials report. This age group has experienced a double-digit increase in eight of the 10 top health conditions like major depression, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, which may lead to higher risks of pregnancy and childbirth complications as well.

In addition to the health consequences, pregnancy complications and childbirth complications drive increased health care costs.

The full study results can be viewed on the Blue Cross Blue Shield website. For more information about Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's maternal health coverage, please visit https://www.bcbsnd.com/providers/policies-precertification/reimbursement-policy/maternity-services. In addition to women’s health and maternity coverage, BCBSND offers tools for members to manage general health and chronic conditions and programs to assist in pregnancy.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota
BCBSND (www.BCBSND.com) was founded in 1940 with the mission to provide members with affordable access to health care across the state. As a member-owned, not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), BCBSND is committed to transforming care and health across the state to improve outcomes, lower cost trends and make it easier to shop, buy and use health care coverage. Members have access to unmatched local service and to a comprehensive network of health care providers across the state, the nation and in 200 countries.