In recognition of the importance of postpartum care in ensuring positive maternal health outcomes, Assembly Democrats Shanique Speight, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and John Armato sponsor a bill to establish a statewide newborn home nurse visitation program. The legislation unanimously passed the full Legislature Thursday.
New mothers often experience a number of physical, emotional and social challenges in the weeks following their child’s birth. In addition to the standard changes in their lives, mothers and children can also experience critical health complications such as severe bleeding or high blood pressure. 40 percent of maternal deaths take place within six weeks of the baby’s delivery.
To help mothers and their infants during this challenging time, the bill (A-4530/S-690) would establish a universal newborn home visitation program within the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide home visitation services to parents and their newborn infants. The purpose would be to support healthy child development and strengthen New Jersey families.
The program would be entirely voluntary – offering home nurse visitation services in every New Jersey community for every newborn child and their parent(s). At least one visit by a registered or advanced practice nurse would take place within two weeks of the baby’s birth, with the opportunity for two additional visits over the next three months.
A health and wellness check of the baby and assessment of the physical/mental health of the person who gave birth would be a part of the program, in addition to support services such as breastfeeding education and information/referrals to providers who can address the specific needs of the family. Health insurers would be required to cover these services and waive cost-sharing requirements.
The measure appropriates $2.75 million to the DCF in order to implement this program.
Upon the measure’s passage, Assembly Democrats Speight (D-Essex), Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Armato (D-Atlantic) issued the following joint statement:
“Being a new mother can be a challenging experience for women as they recover from childbirth and deal with many changes in their lives. It is not uncommon for mothers or their infants to experience physical or mental health issues in the weeks and months following their child’s birth, which is why follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are so important. Enacting a statewide home nurse visitation program would ensure New Jersey mothers receive invaluable postpartum care and advice during this critical period of time, which would ultimately help ensure the health and well-being of families throughout our state.”
The legislation now heads to the Governor’s desk.