Maternal Child Health

The Maternal Child Health Program is dedicated to meeting the ongoing and changing needs of all mothers, fathers, infants and children in Denver.

If you have questions about whether or not you should get pregnant during the coronavirus pandemic, please use this guide to support pregnancy considerations and planning.

What are we doing?

Healthy Pregnancy/Birth Control/Family Planning

It is important to start planning today for a healthy baby someday

 Getting pregnant may seem hard, but if you are having sex and not using birth control, it is very likely you will get pregnant.

To protect any possible baby:

  • Take folic acid for up to one year before you get pregnant, as it can help to prevent birth defects.
  • Eat a healthy diet and be at a healthy weight.
  • Don't drink, use drugs or tobacco.
  • Manage stress when you can. (Take deep breaths, walk, enjoy a hot bath).

 Ask Your Doctor/Healthcare Provider:

  • About genetic screening and counseling based on mom and dad's family history.
  • A safe, effective and easy birth control method that you can stop when you are ready to get pregnant.

Services offered through Public Health and Denver Health:


There are many resources in the Denver metro area for moms to be:

Denver Residents

First baby?: A nurse can help first time, low-income moms get what you need for your baby. Call the Nurse Family Partnership at (303) 602-8986.

Contact Denver Women's Care for information about Denver WIC and Group Prenatal Care.

Non-Denver Residents

First baby?: A nurse can help first time, low-income moms get what you need for your baby. Call Invest in Kids at (303) 839-1808 ext. 101.

Contact our partners at Jefferson County Public Health, or Tri-County Public Health for resources in your area.

Pregnancy-Related Depression (PRD)

Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety (PRD) is the most common problem of pregnancy, affecting about one in seven women in the United States. PRD can occur at any time during pregnancy and/or within the first year of having a baby. It may also happen after a pregnancy loss or adopting a baby. PRD is different from the "baby blues", which tend to go away on their own within two weeks after the loss or birth of a child. PRD is a serious condition that affects a woman's physical and mental health, and does not usually get better on its own. However, PRD is treatable with self-care, social support from friends and family, counseling and/or medication.

PRD and Parenting

Parenting doesn't always turn out the way we expected, and PRD symptoms can make parenting feel even harder. PRD symptoms may get in the way of feeling close to your baby the way you imagined. Having ideas of things to do with your baby can help. The following links provide tips for interacting with your baby. Trying some of these activities may help you feel better, and can help with your baby's development:

Screening/Checking for PRD

We are improving women's mental health by encouraging health care providers to screen women for PRD during prenatal doctor visits (before giving birth), postpartum doctor visits (after giving birth), and at well child visits. Several different tools can be used to check for PRD, including the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire. Screening helps to start the conversation about PRD, identify symptoms early and discuss options to treat PRD symptoms when needed. These results are confidential, just like the rest of your medical record, so try to be honest with your doctor.

Community Resources

Many resources are available to help women with PRD. Please reach out if you or someone you love could use help.

Public Awareness
CDPHE PRD Campaign Image

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Public Health is participating in a public awareness campaign to encourage women and their support systems to recognize symptoms of PRD and get help. All materials include information about Postpartum Support International, a free and confidential service that helps women over the phone.

Ask Your Doctor/Health Care Provider:

  • If they screen/check for PRD regularly during prenatal (before giving birth) or postpartum (after giving birth) doctor visits.
  • How they treat PRD
  • About local resources for PRD
  • How PRD may impact your baby, and resources to support a healthy relationship with your baby.
  • About any PRD symptoms you may be experiencing. Some examples include:
    • Feeling sad or depressed
    • Having difficulty bonding with your baby
    • Having upsetting thoughts

Preventing Infant Death and Promoting Safe Sleep

One of the best ways to determine the health and well-being of our community is to guarantee the health of babies in their first year of life. Many factors influence this, including the health of the mother, the father and the overall well-being of the community in which they live. We are focused on saving babies because everyone deserves a first birthday!

Safe Sleep for Babies

Where your baby sleeps is something you will think about many times a day.

In the United States, about 3,500 babies die each year due to unsafe sleep. In Denver, babies born to black women are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than infants born to white (non-Hispanic) women. Infants born to Hispanic women are two times more likely to die before their first birthday than infants born to white (non-Hispanic) women.

Learn more about making sure all babies are able to celebrate their first birthday, and see tips on keeping your baby safe while they are sleeping:










Preventing Premature Birth:

Every year, about 400 babies are born too early (before 37 weeks) in Colorado. Babies that are born before 37 weeks make up about 38% of all infant deaths. To help your baby not be born too early:

Ask Your Doctor/Health Care Provider:

  • About always sharing the room, but never sharing the bed, couch or chair for sleep with the baby.
  • About always putting your baby to sleep on his/her back.
  • The option to have group prenatal care so you can be supported with other moms.
  • If you are at risk for preterm/premature birth.

You could be at risk for preterm/premature birth if:

  • You were a premature baby.
  • You have had a premature baby before.
  • You have a "short" cervix (the top of the birth canal).

Child and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Families of babies, children and youth (up to age 21) with special health care needs benefit from services designed to help every child meet their potential.

Learn more about Colorado's Health Care Program for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs, or call Denver County's Health Care Program (HCP) at (303) 602-6765.

Ask your Doctor/Healthcare Provider:


A note about language: The term breastfeeding is intended to describe the action of human milk feeding between a parent or caregiver and child. This term may be used interchangeably with “chestfeeding,” as an alternate option for lactating individuals who prefer not to use the term “breast” to describe their bodies.

Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for parents and babies. When babies breastfeed for longer, they receive valuable protection against many chronic conditions, including unhealthy weight status, cancer and diabetes. However, many breastfeeding families face obstacles that make a difference in how long babies are breastfed. These include lack of knowledge, lack of support, returning to work or school, the absence of paid leave policies, healthcare practices, social and cultural norms, marketing of infant formula and more.

The World Health Organization and all major medical organizations in the United States promote breastfeeding for optimal child health and development. The World Health Organization recommends babies receive only breast milk for the first 6 months, and that parents and babies continue breastfeeding as long as they want to. The longer breastfeeding occurs, the more health benefits parents and baby receive.

In Colorado, approximately 90% of infants start out breastfeeding. Yet only 25% are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and just over 40% are breastfed for a full year. Among lower income families and non-white communities, breastfeeding rates are even lower. In particular, non-Hispanic Black families have the lowest rates of initiation, duration and exclusivity.

Disproportionate rates of breastfeeding among Black families’ stems from historical and generational trauma in breastfeeding, resulting in cultural norms of formula feeding, and a lack of social and peer support. In addition, Black individuals are underrepresented in the field of lactation, have fewer forms of positive imagery and breastfeeding modeling, and Black newborns are nine times more likely to be given formula in hospitals than White newborns. For more information, The Center for African American Health recently published a report on disparities and the state of Black breastfeeding in Colorado 2021.

We can help you and are proud to provide:

  • Technical support and coaching
  • Printed materials (breastfeeding laws, educational materials, work space guidelines, etc.)
  • Staff training (PDIS and continued child care certification training)
  • Limited funding to support lactation spaces (breast pumps, lactation space supplies, etc.)
  • Connections to statewide partners and resources
  • Statewide recognition/certification

For more information about creating breastfeeding friendly spaces please contact Mandy Feeks at, or visit our Breastfeeding Friendly Environments page to lean more about how PHIDH promotes and supports breastfeeding friendly policies and practices within businesses, organizations, and public areas so that they are welcoming to all families that are breastfeeding.

Regional Breastfeeding Partnership

The Public Health Institute at Denver Health is committed to addressing racial inequities in breastfeeding and is a partner agency on the Advancing Breastfeeding in Colorado (ABC) project. ABC is an innovative five-year partnership between Boulder County Public Health, the Public Health Institute at Denver Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department (representing Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties), in addition to Colorado Health Institute (CHI).

The aim is to collaborate with local and regional partners to create a seamless system of lactation support, expand access to community and culturally relevant lactation professionals, and increase the number of breastfeeding friendly environments by driving policy and systems changes within businesses, public spaces, child care and medical offices.

Funding for this project is through the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Chronic Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Grants Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Specialized Co-Enrollment Program and Collaboration With WIC

The Specialized Co-Enrollment Program (Co-Enrollment) is an innovative collaboration between Denver Health (DH), the Public Health Institute at Denver Health, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with the goals of streamlining WIC education, enrollment, and benefits for DH patients and families. Through the integration of WIC staff into the medical space and including the enrollment process in the medical visit, we save families time and promote important cooperation with the medical team. We aim to increase the percentage of EBNE (eligible but not currently enrolled) in WIC as well as provide ongoing WIC benefits to those enrolled by sharing medical visits. This program focuses on increasing enrollment in WIC among EBNE pregnant women and children ages 0-5 years who receive care at DH.

Learn more about our Specialized Co-Enrollment Program, including the background of why this program was developed, the results and recommendations.