Pennsylvania Provides Resources to Help Women Lead Healthy, Vibrant Lives

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) are committed to improving the extent and quality of care for Pennsylvania women and families, especially our most vulnerable through a delicate and crucial period of their lives. Through Medicaid expansion, 3.3 million Pennsylvanians currently receive crucial services.

Expanding Perinatal Services 

DHS is working to improve the health and wellness of Pennsylvania mothers — especially those who historically and disproportionately experience health inequity, such as Black Pennsylvanians:

Pregnancy-Related Deaths

  • In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-related deaths grew by more than 21 percent between 2013 and 2018.
  • About 12 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occur between six weeks and one year postpartum, but almost 60 percent of those are preventable.
  • Black women are almost two times more likely than white women to die after giving birth.

Perinatal Mental Health

  • Perinatal depression is the most common complication during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
  • 1 in 7 women experience depression during or following a pregnancy, but too often it can go undiagnosed.
  • A 2018 study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that just 1 in 5 women report symptoms of depression or anxiety during or after a pregnancy to a health care provider, but follow through for treatment may be even lower, especially for women of color.

The American Rescue Plan Act allows states to implement a new Medicaid state plan option beginning in April 2022 that will expand the Medicaid coverage period for new moms from 60 days to one year after giving birth. This extension will help mothers continue to access physical and behavioral health care necessary to keep themselves healthy and their families on a path to good health and well-being.

Doula Pilot Program for Incarcerated Pregnant Women

DHS — in a partnership with the PA Department of Corrections, Tuttleman Foundation and Genesis Birth Services — established a pilot program at SCI Muncy offering doula services to women who are pregnant while incarcerated. The goal of the program is to support mothers through a difficult and vulnerable period and empower them as they prepare to reenter their communities.

Doulas are trained birthing and postpartum support professionals who work with expecting and new mothers to provide the following services, including:

  • Non-clinical physical and emotional support through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period.
  • Work with mothers to help them prepare for childbirth.
  • Create a birthing plan and plans for the postpartum recovery and care.
  • Support the mother and infant as they navigate nursing and feeding.
  • Support the mother through perinatal depression and anxiety.
  • Other milestones through pregnancy and postpartum.

The seven women participating in the pilot will receive doula services during their pregnancy, at the birth of their child, and through 365-days post-partum. If a pilot participant reenters her community prior to the end of the post-partum period, the doula service will continue.

The doula providing services at SCI Muncy is also helping to facilitate parenting classes and discussion groups in conjunction with the facility’s on-staff counselors.

Apply for Medical Assistance

Medical Assistance coverage for pregnant women can begin as soon as your doctor or nurse informs you that you are pregnant. You can apply for benefits in any of the following ways:

Additional Women’s Resources in Pennsylvania