This week, U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Vice Chairwoman of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, led the introduction of a resolution in the House of Representatives to recognize October 10th through October 16th as National Perinatal Nurses Week 2021.
Perinatal nurses work with patients who are attempting to become pregnant, are currently pregnant, or have recently delivered, and include labor and delivery nurses, mother-baby nurses, and neonatal nurses. Throughout their service, they provide prenatal care and testing, take care of patients experiencing pregnancy complications, give supportive care during labor and delivery, and serve as the the primary caregivers of new mothers following delivery. Their continuous support during labor is critical to achieving improved birth outcomes - especially among Black and Native American mothers, who experience two to three times more maternal and infant mortality than non-Hispanic white mothers.
Currently, the United States is facing a shortage of nurses across all fields that will only grow with an aging population. At a time when U.S. mothers are dying at the highest rate in the developed world, perinatal nurses are uniquely positioned to provide valuable insight into factors relating to patient care that may contribute to these deaths. Their insight can help to reduce the rate and disparities of maternal mortality.
"The influence of perinatal nurses on childbirth outcomes goes far beyond the care of women in labor and delivery. These health professionals are the counselors, coaches, educators, and patient advocates whose support of women and families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum transition helps to ensure the healthiest possible outcomes for mothers and babies," said Rep. Roybal-Allard. "I am proud to lead this effort to recognize the contributions of America's perinatal nurses during the second annual National Perinatal Nurses Week."
"Perinatal nurses care for women, newborns and their families every day," said Jonathan Webb, MPH, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). "We are honored to have the tireless work our nurses do recognized by a national celebration of Perinatal Nurses Week. Our sincere thanks and appreciation to Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard for introducing a resolution to recognize this second annual National Perinatal Nurses Week."
Rep. Roybal-Allard is the author of H.R. 3849, the Midwives for MOMS Act, a bill to address the growing maternity care provider shortage and to improve maternity care outcomes by expanding educational opportunities for midwives. She introduced the MOMS for the 21st Century Act in the 111th, 112th, and 113th Congresses in order to improve outcomes and bend the cost curve of our maternity care system by establishing a coordinated national focus on evidence-based maternity care; expanding data collection and research on evidence-based maternity care practices and models of care; and addressing interdisciplinary training and minority workforce recruitment.
Rep. Roybal-Allard is also the author of the H.R. 482, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, a bill meant to eliminate preventable newborn deaths and severe disabilities through the increased use of comprehensive and standardized newborn screening tests. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes critical federal activities that help states improve and expand their newborn screening programs, support newborn screening education for parents and providers, and ensure laboratory quality and surveillance. The bill was first passed into law in 2008, and was reauthorized in 2014. This Congress, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act passed in the House of Representatives once again in June.
In 2015, Rep. Roybal-Allard co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care to raise awareness about the status of childbirth across the nation and the challenges facing America's maternity care system. She is also a long-time member of the House Nursing Caucus and a strong advocate for robust funding for nursing education.
The House Resolution reads:
Thanking and promoting the professions of perinatal nurses by encouraging participation in ""National Perinatal Nurses Week."
Whereas perinatal nurses work with patients who are attempting to become pregnant, are currently pregnant, or have recently delivered;
Whereas perinatal nurses provide prenatal care and testing, care of patients experiencing pregnancy complications, care during labor and delivery, and care of patients following delivery; Whereas perinatal nursing includes labor and delivery nurses, mother-baby nurses, and neonatal nurses;
Whereas continuous support during labor from a registered nurse is critical to achieve improved birth outcomes;
Whereas there has been a persistent shortage of nurses across all fields, while demand continues to grow;
Whereas mothers are dying in the United States at the highest rate in the developed world, and the crisis is most severe for Black mothers;
Whereas nurses are positioned to provide unique insight into patient care circumstances that may contribute to women's deaths, thereby reducing the rate of and disparity in maternal mortality;
Whereas October, the 10th month of the year, was chosen to celebrate ""National Perinatal Nurses Week'' to represent an Apgar score of 10;
Whereas Apgar is the point system used to evaluate the health of a newborn baby, with 10 representing the healthiest possible score for a baby, and this score is assigned and recorded by the perinatal nurse attending the birth;
Whereas the 10th day of the month of October was chosen to begin ""National Perinatal Nurses Week'' to represent 10 centimeters dilated, the measurement used to evaluate a woman's progress in labor;
Whereas 10 centimeters dilated constitutes complete cervical dilation, the successful completion of the first phase of labor when a woman is ready to deliver her baby, and this progress is supported and recorded by the perinatal nurse attending the birth; and
Whereas the week of October 10, 2021, through October 16, 2021, is set aside to celebrate ""National Perinatal Nurses Week'' to raise public awareness of and celebrate the 350,000 perinatal nurses who are clinically active in hospitals, perinatal facilities, and health centers: Now, therefore, be it:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives thanks and promotes the professions of perinatal nurses by encouraging patients, hospital administrators, health care professionals, policymakers, and others to become more familiar with the contributions of perinatal nurses by participating in ""National Perinatal Nurses Week.'"