In the spring of 2011, expectant parents Tara and Ryan Hansen were excited and gleeful to welcome their firstborn child, a son. They entered the hospital ready to be the family they always wanted, but tragically, Tara never got the chance to give her son a lifetime of love. In the days post-birth, Tara couldn’t shake the amount of discomfort she was in—she knew something was terribly wrong. Six days later, those feelings turned into a heartbreaking ending—Tara passed away from an infection she acquired while giving birth. Understandably, Ryan was devastated by the loss of his wife. In that tragedy, a transformative change grew: Ryan founded the Tara Hansen Foundation and has spent the last nine years working tirelessly to make hospitals and doctors more aware of maternal health, and helping to ensure that no one else goes through the loss he and his son have experienced. Through the Foundation’s efforts, three years ago, former Governor Christie declared January 23rd Maternal Health Awareness Day—the first of its kind nationwide—a day to increase the awareness of maternal health issues so that mothers can be better protected and cared for during their pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum periods.
Featured image: Tara and Ryan holding their newborn son just moments after birth.
Making an impact through tragedy—Stop! Look! And Listen!
Tara’s story is heartbreaking, but it’s not unique. Every single day, two women on average die in the United States after childbirth—in 2014, the most recent year reported, pregnancy-related mortality has more than doubled. In total, there are 52,000 women each year affected by maternal morbidity. Through The Tara Hansen Foundation, Ryan is helping raise awareness about the risks associated with the mother as they do about the child. One of his initiatives was to create the Stop! Look! And Listen! campaign, to ensure new moms have the same level of care and attention as their new babies. The Stop! Look! and Listen! campaign strongly encourages mothers and their loved ones to speak up when they think that something is wrong. If a new mom expresses that she doesn’t feel well, or believes something is wrong, then the health care team should stop everything, look at her thoroughly and listen to her concerns. Instead of brushing off even the most typical complaints of new mothers, they should report it and take the issues seriously. The campaign has become a crucial teaching element to all maternal healthcare professionals and prompted the New Jersey law establishing Maternal Health Awareness Day.
Here’s how you can help other expecting moms
This day helps remind physicians, parents, loved ones, insurance companies and legislators to keep every woman, every hospital and every birth a serious and safe experience. As moms, we all know how important this cause is especially if you’re expecting, so why not make other moms aware, too? Let expectant moms and their loved ones know that this is an issue they should know about. And don’t be afraid to utilize the Stop! Look! And Listen! campaign for yourself or pregnant moms you know. Of course, there are other ways to help, too: Donate to the Tara Hansen Foundation or sign up for one of the projects they host with RWJ Barnabas Health, like fundraisers and events that you can attend to raise money and awareness.
This post is sponsored by RWJ Barnabas Health, where they take maternal health and safety very seriously.