7 Factors of Maternal Health That You're Probably Overlooking

By Amy Haderer
CEO and Founder of Motherboard
Certified Labor Doula (CAPPA)


I saw this infographic in my feed and for me it really rings true for families preparing to have a baby. I wanted to respond and expand on the graphic in my own words.

Maternal Health In Crisis

The United States has the worst rates of maternal outcomes of the developed world. Not only that, but these rates are 3-4x worse for people of color, and the stats are climbing instead of falling.

In maternal health, we focus on what "healthy" looks like on the outside and ignore all the underlying ways people are "unhealthy" during pregnancy, the birth process, and raising a baby.

Mental Health

Growing, birthing, and caring for a baby is a cataclysmic shift in someone's life. It not only restructures your cells, your body, and your hormones, it also restructures WHO you are and how others see you. A shift this huge can definitely take a toll on someone's mental health. Lots of news has come out lately about finding a pill to combat postpartum depression. It's a drop in the bucket! While it could be an effective tool for some, no pill is going to magically "fix" all the issues on this list.

Emotional Health

Being pregnant isn't always a bed of roses. Problems in relationships, instability at work, fearing for the future, feeling like you're not enough... these can all take a toll on your emotions.

Environmental Health

Not being able to access spaces and places that promote wellbeing (work, relational stressors, institutionalized racism and generational trauma all play a role).

Social Health

Birthing folks are more disconnected than ever before in some ways. This can mean living apart from family and community and/or struggling to "find your people" (or even the privilege of having the time to look). This can be especially true for marginalized communities such as people of color, queer folks, and disabled people. On the flip side, sometimes social media creates a double-edged sword: You may be able to "find your people", but having such a swirling storm of opinions and ideas can also be overwhelming to new families who are just trying to find their voices as parents.

Occupational Health

Workplaces can sometimes be a toxic environment, especially for families. The US has the worst stats of family leave compared to the rest of the developed world. While some companies are making a shift towards supporting families, many are lagging behind.

Spiritual Health

Not to be completely tied to religion (though for some people they overlap), what are you doing that gives you a sense of greater purpose? What fills you up?

Physical Health

Even beyond this, when we only focus on external signs of "health" we do a disservice to folks who don't "present" as healthy, such as people of size. Someone who is overweight but hitting all the other markers of health with flying colors is STILL going to be in better shape than someone who is skinny but completely miserable in all other areas. Plus Size Mommas does a great job of raising awareness of this.

If you're pregnant and are preparing for this massive shift, use these areas as a template for setting up support to bolster these different areas of your life. You will have a much better postpartum experience for it!

If you are a birth-worker or care provider, use these areas as a checklist to talk to your clients about how they can set themselves up for success.

It really does take a village to support families!

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Written by Amy Haderer
CEO and Founder of Motherboard
Certified Labor Doula (CAPPA)