NORFOLK, Va. - New mom Christina Young met her bundle of joy Edward a bit earlier than expected.
"I was supposed to give birth April 9th, but due to hypertension and preeclampsia, I gave birth on February 19th, which was 7 weeks early," she said.
Hypertension in women before and after birth is a huge issue for mom's Sentara Healthcare serves, especially in women of color.
"It is a contributing factor to morbidity and mortality ultimately death in some cases," said Megan Buchholz, Director of Family Maternity at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
In fact, Buccholz says out of 100,000 live births there is an average of 16 deaths from mothers who have hypertension in the Commonwealth.
"Women are dying. The mortality rate is rising instead of decreasing and we can fix this," said Buchholz.
This is why Sentara created the new initiative called Moms Matter -- the first of its kind offering home-based follow up care for moms who leave the hospital on prescribed hypertension medications, much like Christina Young.
"It is really important because it's so easy to get overwhelmed when you are taking care of newborn you forget to care for yourself," said Young.
Every woman goes home with a blood pressure cuff for monitoring.
"They are told to check their blood pressure at least three times a day," said Buchholz.
Sentara's partner, Children's Health Investment Program or CHIP, will also assign a nurse to visit the moms in the first year after childbirth.
"Meeting them when they are in their homes and helping them understand how to take care of themselves and their babies is critical, " Buchholz said.
There are currently 50 women in the program that launched a month ago.
"These moms need this. It could be life changing for them, it is so needed in community," said Buchholz.