Press release, Franciscan Health:

Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer is aiming to improve maternal health outcomes with its new “I Gave Birth” initiative, which uses bracelets to help identify post-partum women.

The program first launched in 2021 at the University of North Carolina Collaborative for Infant and Maternal Health. Other hospitals across the country have developed their own programs based on that model, including Franciscan Health Dyer.

Post-partum care is of particular concern in Indiana, which has one of the top 10 worst maternal mortality rates in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Locally, the Indiana Department of Health reports Lake County has the ninth highest maternal mortality rates in the state.

As of Feb. 1, blue rubber bracelets with the words “I Gave Birth” printed on them in white are given to women before they are discharged from Franciscan Health Dyer, along with education about symptoms to watch for post-partum.

Warning signs include chest pain, shortness of breath, seizures, headaches, thoughts of self-harm or harming others, uncontrollable bleeding and fever of 100.4 or higher.

Patients are encouraged to wear the bracelets for at least six weeks after giving birth, a period of time often referred to as the fourth trimester, but ideally, for one year. The CDC reports 53% of pregnancy-related deaths occur between one week and one year after giving birth.

“It is a time of immense joy for families with a new baby, but it can also be a very vulnerable time, especially for new moms,” said Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager Ashley Garza MSN, RN. “They are experiencing a lot of change – emotional, psychological and physical – and it is crucial that they are paying attention to their own health and not just that of the baby.”

Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer staff also worked to educate emergency room staff at Franciscan Health Dyer and Franciscan Health Munster hospitals about the bracelet project in an effort to help quickly identify and treat post-partum patients. General practitioners in the Franciscan Physician Network also received education about the new program.

“We really hope to heighten awareness for the physicians and to encourage moms to speak up for themselves,” Garza said. “The bracelets really help serve as a visible reminder not just for the physicians but for the moms and their family members to look for post-partum warning signs.”

The Indiana Department of Health reports 80 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in the state are preventable. Garza said Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer is working to be part of the solution.

“Having a baby is a happy time and moms don’t realize something can go wrong,” Garza said. “A lot of the time, they aren’t educated in these areas and it isn’t something people share. They’re exhausted, they’ve been through childbirth, now they have another human to care for. It can be really overwhelming when they leave the hospital.”

Garza said other local Franciscan Family Birth Centers have shown an interest in adopting Dyer’s program as well.

A virtual tour of the Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer is available online. More information about the Franciscan Health Family Birth Center Dyer is available online at or by calling (219) 515-3993.