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New and soon-to-be moms can call hotline for help during and after pregnancy

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A spike in maternal deaths has prompted the launch of a new hotline geared toward helping mothers during and after pregnancy.

The national maternal health hotline was included in U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Light for Maternal Health and Substance Use Disorder Act to help mothers cope with pregnancy-related mental health challenges, including substance use disorder, depression, anxiety and birth-related PTSD.

“Our mothers deserve to have their voices heard, and they deserve to be supported as they care for their new children,” Gillibrand said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 700 Americans die each year during pregnancy, and Black women are three times more likely to die than white women.

Gillibrand said maternal deaths rose by about 40% in 2021, which she said was in part due to the pandemic. She said this hotline is a lifeline for mothers and their families.

“Pregnancy should be a joyous time for mothers and their families,” she said. “No mother should have to worry about losing her life because she can't get the help she needs.”

The hotline is open 24/7 and can support up to 60 different languages.

So far, Gillibrand said, counselors have talked to roughly 7,500 women with a response time of under one minute. She’s now calling for its full implementation by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“We need to make sure that all mothers across the country know about it,” she said.

The number to the hotline is 1-833-943-5746.

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.