ASHNHA and our partners are working to improve maternal health outcomes by establishing and promoting best practices for care.
Current work includes partnering with the Alaska State Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health / Women’s, Children’s, and Family Unit to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality through the Alaska Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the Maternal Child Death Review Committee (MCDR). In addition, It Takes All of Us, is a campaign created to provide resources for pregnant and postpartum people, their family and friends, and providers.
Pregnant & Postpartum People
Welcome! It can be overwhelming to be pregnant or a parent of a new baby - remember you are not alone. We may love our baby, or love the idea of being pregnant, but still experience sadness and gloom. You are not alone in your thoughts when they become desperate, gloomy, or sad. This reflection by Author Terra LaRock, "When motherhood overwhelms, remember you are not alone", provides a picture into how many moms often feel.
While pregnant, or after delivering your baby, people may ask you “Isn’t it great?” or “Don’t you just love being a mom?” While their intention is to show enthusiasm and support these simple questions can challenge us, making us question if we should be happier, more put together? It is important to reach out to neighbors, friends, people you work with.
You may just find that they too remember how hard it can be. They may remember days of exhaustion, uncertainty, isolation, and worry. As Terra LaRock recalls, “Sleep does gets better, but as a mother, there will always be a sense of darkness that appears and fills your thoughts with doubt. It may not come frequently and the good will certainly outlast and outshine the bad, but it is there. Those words, so deep and true to me in the moments, helped walk me through a low point with the assurance that I was not alone, and that I would survive.”
Family & Friends
Strong Social Support during pregnancy improves perinatal outcomes for mother and baby.
Supportive assistance to your pregnant friend or loved one includes tangible and nontangible assistance. Family members or friends are important in circle of support. Supporting a person who is pregnant or just had a baby can include providing basic needs (e.g., shelter, food, clothing, and transportation) and emotional support.
Give the new parents time to rest and recover. Let them decide when they’re ready for visitation.
Drop by and provide a premade meal, but only stay for a visit if asked to do so. Consider sharing traditional and cultural foods.
Offer to stop in an babysit so the parent can take a shower, go shopping, or spend some time to self-care.
New caregivers are often tired and need need rest. Offer to clean the house, pick up groceries, bring them their mail or run errands.
Offer to provide transportation to doctor appointments and well-baby check-ups.
Support birthing people with staying engaged or re-engaging in activities and hobbies enjoyed before giving birth.
Support new parents with continuing or resuming cultural and traditional activities such as berry picking, hunting, crafts, music, etc.
Help connect parents with concrete supports and resources to help ease the financial strain that can come with having a new baby.
Talk about mental health needs in a supportive, non-judgmental way – emphasize that needing support is normal and OK!
Is your loved one experiencing problems related to drug or alcohol use? There are medication and other treatment options available to help pregnant people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol. People who experience substance use disorders often feel shame, which can stop them from getting help. Emotional support, encouragement and access to treatment services will increase the chances of a healthy, safe pregnancy and positive birth experience for mother and baby.
Resources & Links:
Please note we do not offer crisis management services. Always dial 911 if there is threat of suicide or of violence or harm to self or others.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -
Alaska State Troopers - 907-269-5511
24 Hour Crisis Hotline - 907-563-3200
Careline Alaska - 1-877-266-4357
Listen to Doula Hayley Kocinski talk about her work and the kinds
of support birthing people need most during the postpartum period.
Hayley is a private doula who participates as a panelist in the MCDR Program. MCDR committee members and panelists are not state employees. While the views in this recording may be consistent with MCDR recommendations, they are the author’s own personal opinions and do not necessarily represent the State of Alaska or the MCDR program.
The Alaska Perinatal Quality Collaborative (AKPQC) has been established to promote high-quality maternal and newborn care across Alaska. Perinatal Quality Collaboratives exist in most states and are structured and function based on the needs of the population. Alaska has a relatively small population, finite financial resources, great geographical distances, costly transports, unpredictable weather, scarcity of specialized care, high hospital staff turnover, and competing health business entities. This backdrop necessitates strong collaborative efforts to optimize perinatal care. The State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s and Family Health (WCFH) is the administrative partner to the Alaska Perinatal Quality Collaborative.
Maternal Child Death Review Committee (MCDR)
This initiative is in partnership with the Alaska State Department of Health and Human Services - Division of Public Health / Women’s, Children’s, and Family Unit - to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality. The state of Alaska was awarded one of 24 grants from the CDC for Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM) Program. This funding directly supports agencies and organizations that coordinate and manage Maternal Mortality Review Committees to identify, review, and characterize maternal deaths; and identify prevention opportunities. ASHNHA partners with the State of Alaska and the volunteer members of the Maternal Child Death Review Committee to publish and promote a comprehensive list of recommendations with the goal of preventing future maternal deaths.