Prenatal Care in New York State

About Prenatal Care

Several major risk factors are associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight and infant mortality (deaths). Some of these risk factors include late or no prenatal care, cigarette smoking, alcohol and other drug use, being HIV positive, spacing of pregnancies, maternal age, poor nutrition and socieconomic status. Minority women are more likely to have poorer birth outcomes than the general population.

New York State is committed to addressing risk factors that lead to poor birth outcomes, especially in the hard to reach populations of the state. This is evidenced by the improvement in the infant mortality rates over the past few years. Infant mortality in New York State has decreased by more than 34.3% over the past 10 years, taking the state from 32nd in the nation to ninth. Nationally the decline over the same period was 21.7%.

Even though great strides have been made in addressing the needs of women and children in the state, New York continues to make the health of women and children a priority. Several programs have been developed with the purpose of increasing access to prenatal and perinatal care. The mission of these programs is:

"To improve the health of under-served women, infants and children through improved access to and enhanced utilization of perinatal and prenatal care and related services."

The New York State Department of Health promotes the health of child-bearing, pregnant and postpartum women and newborns through the following programs:

  • Growing Up Healthy Hotline

    This toll-free hotline (1-800-522-5006) operates 24-hours/day, seven-days-a-week and provides information and referral for individuals, including teens, about pregnancy care services, family planning, health care, nutrition and other health and human services. Information is available in English, Spanish and many other languages.

  • Comprehensive Prenatal Perinatal Services Networks (Networks)

    The Networks are community-based organizations whose purpose is to organize the perinatal (pregnancy, delivery, post delivery and infancy) service system at the local level to improve pregnancy outcomes and promote better children's health. Networks accomplish this through working with a Consortium of local health and human service providers and consumers of service that helps the Networks identify and address issues. There are currently 15 Networks across the state that target women at highest risk for poor pregnancy outcomes.

  • Community Health Worker Program (CHWP)

    The CHWP provides one-on-one outreach, education and home visiting services to pregnant and parenting women and families at highest risk for poor health outcomes, particularly low birth weight infants and infant mortality (infant deaths). Services are provided by paraprofessionals who live in the area they serve and are trained to provide referrals for a wide range of services, and to provide support and assistance for families trying to obtain needed services, including accompaniment to scheduled visits when needed. There are currently 23 Community Health Worker Programs throughout the state.

  • Perinatal Regionalization Program

    Perinatal regionalization ensures that there are hospitals that can provide a full range of services for pregnant women and their babies in a geographic region. This means parents-to-be can be sure that there are hospitals near where they live that can provide everything from a basic, uncomplicated delivery to those that can serve mothers and babies with the most complex, critical problems.

  • Breastfeeding Promotion Program

    The program provides training and guidelines to help get more mothers to breastfeed and to get them to breastfeed longer.


Your Guide to a Healthy Birth

The publication "Your Guide to a Healthy Birth" is an educational guide to help pregnant women better understand childbirth and the choices available to them through this process. The guide covers important issues from planning of the pregnancy through labor, delivery, the postpartum period and returning to work.

Prenatal Care Posters

The posters are examples of translated materials that can be used to promote early and continuous enrollment in prenatal care. They are available for adaptation and use by providers serving diverse populations. Providers who wish to adapt these materials for local use should contact the Department at 518-474-1911.

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression encompasses a wide range of mood disorders that can affect a woman during pregnancy and after the birth of her child. It includes prenatal depression, the "baby blues," postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. Materials developed to promote awareness of perinatal depression, reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and promote screening and referral are available.

Preconception Care - Optimal Health Prior to Pregnancy

Preconception care is important for women because almost half of all pregnancies are unintended and optimizing health prior to conception can result in improved pregnancy outcomes for both women and their newborns. The following resources are designed to encourage health care providers and women of reproductive age to talk about and adopt preconception care strategies.