May 03, 2023
The Blue Band Initiative and Preeclampsia Awareness Month
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 1 Comments
May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Preeclampsia, eclampsia, gestational hypertension and HELLP syndrome are all classified as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDPs). Throughout the globe, up to 10% of pregnant people are impacted by HDPs. Preeclampsia often presents as a rapid rise in blood pressure. This can lead to complications that include strokes, seizures, organ failure and death for both the parent and/or the baby. Severe maternal morbidity events impact Black parents at twice the rate of their white peers. Preeclampsia can be a concern during pregnancy and also after delivery, during the postpartum period.
Childbirth educators and other perinatal professionals have a responsibility to inform pregnant people about the signs and symptoms to watch for, in the case of preeclampsia, and to encourage them to reach out to a health care provider if they have any concerns. It is important for people to be insistent, and express their concern to their doctor or midwife and request that their concerns be taken seriously. Oftentimes, especially for Black and brown people, concerns are dismissed and opportunities are missed to prevent a serious consequence.
The Preeclampsia Foundation has created two short videos that educators may find beneficial to share with the families in their classes. The first speaks to the seven symptoms that pregnant people should be aware of, and the second raises the awareness of the risk of preeclampsia in the postpartum period. You can find these videos and other tools associated with Preeclampsia Awareness Month on the Preeclampsia Foundation’s website.
These videos are also available in Spanish.
In order to raise awareness of the preeclampsia risk in pregnant or postpartum people, two states, Minnesota and Washington, have instituted the Blue Band Initiative. According to the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MNPQC), the purpose of the Blue Band Project is to offer “providers in hospitals and clinics screen pregnant and postpartum patients with a universal tool, to determine current and future risk factors for HTN. Patients determined to be at risk are offered education and a blue bracelet to wear throughout pregnancy and up to 6 weeks postpartum. The bracelet identifies the patient as being at risk for eclampsia and provides internet resources for the patient, healthcare professionals, and first responders/EMT’s that the patient may encounter. Patients dawning blue bands are encouraged to alert all healthcare professionals of the risk including those at unplanned visits such as urgent care and ER visits. This strategy works to empower moms with the visual reminder of their diagnosis and the support of those providers who prescribed it with her as she seeks medical care for symptoms or concerns.”
The MNPQC intends to evaluate the program by collecting quantitative and qualitative data from patients and health care providers who are participating, with the goal of demonstrating a reduction in the number of people impacted by preeclampsia and other HDPs through the use of blue bands to identify those at higher risk. Guidelines on how to implement a similar Blue Band Project in your facility can be found here.
How and when do you talk about preeclampsia in your childbirth classes? Do you include information about the continued risk in the postpartum period? Is there a Blue Band Project or Initiative in your state, province or community? Are you making a point of raising awareness about this serious complication of pregnancy and postpartum during Preeclampsia Awareness Month? Let us know what you do to cover this topic and what you have planned for this month.
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TagsChildbirth education Preeclampsia Preeclampsia Awareness Month Sharon Muza