Governor Hochul Highlights Statewide Efforts to Improve Maternal and Infant Health

Maternal Health Care
Through mandating a separate sick leave bank for prenatal care, New York will go further than any other state to ensure pregnant individuals can receive the health care needed to create healthy outcomes for parent and child without jeopardizing employment. Employees are now able to receive an additional 20 hours of paid sick leave for prenatal care in addition to the existing sick leave.

The FY 2025 Budget also includes financial incentives for hospitals to reduce the number of unnecessary C-sections as part of Governor Hochul’s Maternal and Infant Health Care agenda. Governor Hochul is also taking action to establish new oversight measures to identify physicians whose behavior is out of line with clinical best practices.

These initiatives build on Governor Hochul’s previous actions to support new parents and improve maternal health outcomes. The FY 2024 Enacted Budget established 12 weeks of paid parental leave benefits to more than 80 percent of the state workforce and extended postpartum coverage for up to a full year for Medicaid and Child Health Plus enrollees.

Expanding Access to Doulas
The Enacted Budget invests $250,000 to establish a grant program to expand access to community-based doulas. The grant program will help recruit, train, support and mentor community-based doulas – especially those in historically vulnerable communities. This funding builds on the State’s efforts to allow Medicaid coverage for doula services and facilitate easier access to doulas via a New York State Community Doula Directory. The Budget also authorizes the Commissioner of Health to issue a statewide standing order for doula services, expanding access for all birthing parents.

Maternal Mental Health
Governor Hochul secured $1.6 million for maternal mental health initiatives in the FY 2025 Enacted Budget to ensure that service providers engaging pregnant and postpartum New Yorkers are equipped to provide the best care. Specialized training is being developed for counselors staffing the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, so they can better provide compassionate care, support, and necessary resources to mothers and birthing parents who experience mental health distress.

Governor Hochul issued a proclamation recognizing Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, which extends through Sunday, May 5. The proclamation acknowledges that mental health conditions rank among the leading causes of maternal mortality in New York, and that an estimated one in eight women experience postpartum depression, with women of color significantly more likely to have symptoms.

Project TEACH
The State Office of Mental Health is also expanding Project TEACH, so that a wider range of front-line practitioners – including therapists, lactation consultants, WIC staff, home visiting nurses, and others – can provide mental health support to pregnant and postpartum New Yorkers. Additionally, OMH was selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to participate in a National Learning Collaborative on this subject matter.