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The goal of Moms Under Pressure is to distribute blood pressure cuff kits throughout Southwestern Virginia to pregnant mothers and birthing persons who are diagnosed with preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, gestational hypertension, or are at risk for those hypertensive disorders.

Those who choose to enroll in this free community health intervention program will receive:

  • Official Moms Under Pressure backpack

  • Blood pressure self-measuring kit

  • Care-Coordination and navigation

  • Connecting with local resources to ensure a healthier pregnancy

Moms Under Pressure is funded by grants provided by the CDC to the Virginia Department of Health. The CDC awarded VDH two multi-million-dollar grants to address heart disease in the Commonwealth, named the CDC National Cardiovascular Health Program and the Innovative Cardiovascular Health Program. The two grants established the Virginia Cardiovascular Health Program, implemented and managed by the Office of Family Health – Division of Prevention and Health Promotion. The Virginia Cardiovascular Health Program has united state and local partners--including Huddle Up Moms--to implement and evaluate CDC evidence-based strategies to improve blood pressure control, reduce disparities in cardiovascular disease, and connect communities at high risk for heart disease and stroke to clinical and social services.​

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Moms Under Pressure blood pressure kit
What is preeclampsia?

What is Preeclampsia? Preeclampsia (pre-e-CLAMP-si-a) is a condition characterized by persistent high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy or the postpartum period. It may be accompanied by high levels of protein in the urine, decreased blood platelets, kidney or liver problems, fluid in the lungs, or signs of brain complications like seizures and visual disturbances. The diagnosis is typically made by observing elevated blood pressure in the expectant mother after the 20th week of pregnancy, and it is a unique condition to human pregnancy. Recent guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have changed the diagnostic criteria, no longer requiring the presence of high protein levels in the urine. Research has shown that organ issues in the kidneys and liver can occur even without proteinuria, and the amount of protein in the urine does not indicate the severity of the disease's progression. Prior to these updated guidelines, healthcare providers primarily relied on blood pressure and proteinuria for diagnosing preeclampsia.

What is HELLP Syndrome? HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, and Low Platelets) syndrome, as described by the Preeclampsia Foundation, is a life-threatening pregnancy complication that is typically considered a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions tend to manifest during the later stages of pregnancy or shortly after childbirth. The name HELLP syndrome was coined by Dr. Louis Weinstein in 1982, reflecting its defining characteristics: H: Hemolysis, which refers to the breakdown of red blood cells. EL: Elevated liver enzymes. LP: Low platelet count. Diagnosing HELLP syndrome can be challenging since not all the typical signs of preeclampsia, such as high blood pressure and protein in the urine, may be present. The symptoms of HELLP syndrome are occasionally mistaken for other conditions like gastritis, flu, acute hepatitis, acute fatty liver disease, or gall bladder disease, although there is no evidence suggesting a direct connection between these conditions and HELLP syndrome. Early detection is crucial as approximately 25% of cases can lead to severe illness or even death. Therefore, raising awareness about HELLP syndrome and its relationship to preeclampsia among patients is essential to ensure the best possible medical care for both the mother and the baby.

What is Gestational Hypertension? Gestational hypertension, also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), is a condition characterized by high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy. It typically arises after the 20th week of gestation and affects around 6-8% of pregnant women. Gestational hypertension is different from chronic hypertension, as it occurs specifically during pregnancy and usually resolves after childbirth. The exact cause of gestational hypertension is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Risk factors for developing gestational hypertension include being a first-time mother, having a family history of the condition, being overweight or obese, being older than 40, and having certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. Gestational hypertension can have serious implications for both the mother and the baby. If left untreated, it can progress to a more severe condition called preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure along with organ damage and other complications. Preeclampsia poses risks such as restricted fetal growth, preterm birth, placental abruption, and maternal complications such as stroke or organ failure. To manage gestational hypertension, close monitoring of blood pressure and regular prenatal check-ups are essential. Treatment may involve lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and rest. In some cases, medication to control blood pressure may be prescribed to ensure the well-being of the mother and the baby. Overall, gestational hypertension is a significant condition that requires careful monitoring and medical management during pregnancy to minimize the risks and ensure a healthy outcome for both the mother and the baby.

This information provided by the Preeclampsia Foundation.

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Who is eligible for MUP?

  1. Pregnant women who live in Southwest Virginia

  2. We are hoping to specifically enroll pregnant persons or women who are diagnosed with preeclampsia, hypertension, and/or HELLP syndrome.

  3. We are also hoping to specifically enroll pregnant persons or women who have been identified at AT RISK for preeclampsia, hypertension, and/or HELLP syndrome.  (At risk includes: you may be at risk if you have kidney disease, diabetes, <20 years old >35 years old, your first pregnancy, multiple fetuses, autoimmune disorders, IVF, obesity, or difficulty with access to care)

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Meet the
MUP Program Director
Mikayla Hansen

Mikayla Hansen is a new mom and passionate advocate for rural maternal healthcare. She attended graduate school at Clemson University and has worked in programming for six years. She fell in love with the women's health field in 2019 and has pursued multiple trainings to help women through their prenatal and postpartum journeys. In 2023, she learned to be flexible when her own birth did not go as planned. That solidified her desire to work with families and led her to Huddle Up Moms.

Mikayla lives in Eagle Rock on her family homestead with her husband and daughter. She loves any outdoor adventure, baking, and jamming to Taylor Swift.

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