Maternal Child Health

Who We Are

pregnant womanThe mission of the Maternal/Child Health Task Force is to bring together key stakeholders to address the most pressing health issues related to moms and their families.


Task Force Chairs
Ainat Koren, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Kelly Petravicz, South Bay Community Services


Teen Pregnancy Prevention Subcommittee
CHAIR: Stephanie Bucholz and Hannah Tello
This subcommittee works to decrease teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease transmission among Greater Lowell youth through information gathering and distribution, integration of services, and supporting effective initiatives.

Delaying the Second Pregnancy in Teen Mothers Project Subcommittee
Ainat Koren
Program design: Additional funding is being sought to start a pilot program
in the City of Lowell delaying second pregnancies and helping young mothers
to complete their high school education, with outcomes consistent across
diverse ethnic backgrounds. The program has two main components:

  • Intense bi-monthly training through membership in a group
  • Ongoing, individual support provided by a Home Visitor

The membership and participation in bi-monthly Advisory Group meetings,
provides a mechanism for intense training and peer support for the common
goal of not getting pregnant.

Monthly Home Visitors will provide information and education, ongoing
guidance and support, referrals to community services, and monitoring and
follow-up of contraceptive use. The Home Visitors are community members
that will serve as surrogate mothers, sisters, school and welfare advocates
for these young mothers and their children.

Perinatal Mental Health Coalition (formerly MotherWoman of Lowell)
CHAIR: Heather Biedrzycki

The Perinatal Mental Health Coalition brings together medical and mental health providers and community members to address a wide range of perinatal emotional complications. We strive to improve the emotional well-being of pregnant and postpartum woman and their families through education, outreach, advocacy, and support.

Join Us

maternal and child healthWe urge you to join us in the fight to address this crisis and help create healthier minds and bodies in our region. Attend one of our task force meetings or contact Co-chairs Kelly Petravicz or Ainat Koren to learn about how you can get involved. The Maternal Child Health Task Force generally meets the 3rd Thursday of every other month from 9:30  – 11:00 a.m.  Upcoming meetings are:

  • Thursday, February 16, 2017
  • Thursday, April 20, 2017
  • Thursday, June 15, 2017
  • Thursday, August 17, 2017
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017
  • Thursday, December 21, 2017

in the Hanchett Auditorium, Lowell General Hospital, Main Campus, 295 Varnum Avenue in Lowell.

Addressing the Need

Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge impact on the physical, mental, emotional, and socioeconomic health of women and their families. Pregnancy-related health outcomes are influenced by a woman’s health and by other factors, including race, ethnicity, age, and income.


  • Maternal mortality is a key indicator of health worldwide and reflects the ability of women to secure maternal and other health care services. The maternal mortality ratio in the United States is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Each year in the United States, there are about 3,500 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths. These deaths occur among infants less than 1 year old and have no immediately obvious cause.
  • Preterm-related causes of death together account for 35% of all infant deaths, more than any other single cause.
  • Mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to give birth to a low-weight baby, and their baby is five times more likely to die.
  • Teen pregnancy rates have steadily declined over the past decade, but still accounted for 249,067 teen births (births of girls ages 15 – 19) in 2014, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.


The 2013 Greater Lowell Health Needs Assessment, a collaborative effort of the GLHA, Lowell General Hospital, and University of Massachusetts Lowell, has identified maternal and child health as an important unmet need in Greater Lowell.

Public health data supports concerns that the Greater Lowell area, and the City of Lowell in particular, have higher rates of low birth weight, births to adolescent mothers, and mothers not receiving prenatal care in the first trimester. There is also a higher rate of mothers receiving publicly funded prenatal care in Lowell versus the state. Teen pregnancy rates have been decreasing, but remain significantly higher in Lowell than the surrounding communities and in the state.

For additional resources, visit our Resources page.

Our Impact

Mom2BeThe Maternal Child Task Force hosts the Mom2Be website (, which offers information and resources about the services available to promote early and adequate prenatal care to at-risk populations (immigrants, teens, and women experiencing substance abuse or domestic violence). We are working with individuals and organizations interacting with at-risk populations to spread the word about this helpful resource.

Current Initiatives

Current Initiatives of the Maternal/Child Task Force:

  • Promoting the Mom2Be website to service providers and the public.
  • Developing active working groups regarding Breastfeeding and Post-partum Depression.
  • Assessing what reproductive health services are currently offered to adolescents through pediatric practices.
  • Assessing the needs and resources available to pregnant and parenting teens inside and outside of school.
  • Determining how best to support parents as primary sexual health educators of their children.

Past Initiatives

Over the past year, we:

  • Marketed the Mom2Be website (, which offers information and resources about the services available to promote early and adequate prenatal care to at-risk populations (immigrants, teens, and women experiencing substance abuse or domestic violence). We are working with individuals and organizations interacting with at-risk populations to spread the word about this helpful resource.
  • Hosted a Car Seat Safety event. More than 79 car seats were checked and 19 car seats were given away. This was in collaboration with Greater Lowell Health Alliance, Lowell General Hospital, Tewksbury Police Department, Lowell Police Department, Salem Five Charitable Foundation, and Hannaford Supermarkets.
  • Hosted a three-day Child Passenger Safety & Training (CPS) at the Tewksbury Police Department, with a goal to help prevent misuse of car seats. GLHA and Tewksbury Police Department were sponsors.
  • Started a support group for first-time moms, moms with infants, and expectant moms.
  • Participated in another successful World Breastfeeding Week celebration in August.

Teen Pregancy Prevention Subcommittee

  •  Distributed training curriculum and resources to six pediatric practices in the Greater Lowell area on best practices for adolescent reproductive health and addressing confidentiality.
  • Collaborated with Massachusetts organizations to get clarification on the role of mandated reporters in reporting cases of underage sex. As a result, Massachusetts law enforcement officials (the Attorney General and the Middlesex District Attorney) have recently launched an on-line training for mandated reporters. While recognizing that mandated reporting is an important tool for addressing sexual abuse and assault, this training acknowledges that not all under-age teen sex must be reported to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). Available at:
  • Merged meetings of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Subcommittee and the Maternal Child Health Task Force, breaking off into working groups when projects arise.

Delaying the Second Pregnancy in Teen Mothers Project Subcommittee

  • Officially launched the program on July 1, 2016.
  • Trained home visitor supervisors and program directors, purchased the syllabus and tools from a “focus on youth” organization in Chicago, and developed tools for program evaluation.
  • Enrolled six teen mothers in the home visit program.
  • Engaged in collaboration with the Michael B. Christensen Community & Family Support Center, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc., which provides similar services in the community.

Perinatal Mental Health Coalition (formerly MotherWoman of Lowell)

  • Launched a new “Moms Connected” free support group for pregnant and post-partum mothers.
  • Participated in an “Advanced Training for Leaders: The Community-Based Perinatal Support Model for Mothers” on September 22, 2016 in Worcester, highlighting the work of the Mom2Be site.
  • Hosted three film screenings of “Dark Side of the Full Moon,” a documentary on maternal mental health, for practitioners in May and June.
    •  Lowell General Hospital: offered CEUs and MEUs, with nearly 40 participants.
    • Lowell Community Health Center: two showings, with twenty practitioners at each viewing.