We've shared before the alarming statistics of high maternal mortality (mothers and birthing persons dying) in the United States. The United States has the highest (worst) rate of maternal mortality in the developed/industrialized world, and while other countries' maternal death rates are going down, the United States' maternal death rate is on a sharp rise.
This risk affects all women and birthing persons, regardless of race, economic status, and health conditions, though not equally -- Black women and birthing persons die at 3 to 4 times higher than the rate of those who are white in the United States.
Investigative journalism news organization ProPublica along with the news organization NPR have joined together to seek information and report on why so many American people are dying around the time of childbirth. To date, they have unearthed the tragic and eye-opening stories of many, and produced several articles to share about the lives of these families, and expose the weaknesses and failings they experienced in the health care system. You can learn more by reading through ProPublica's series of reporting on "Lost Mothers."
How You Can Help
To date, ProPublica has collected nearly 5,000 stories of maternal harm. That may sound like a lot, and it is, but their work still continues and they need your help and input. The more information that's collected, the more work that can be done to improve the health care system for mothers, parents, and families. If you know (or are) someone who has nearly died, or know someone who has died in pregnancy, childbirth, or within a year after giving birth, I encourage you to fill out ProPublica's quick questionnaire to share your story.
If you are moved to host an event in your community to open up the discussion around maternal health, ProPublica and NPR have created the Lost Mothers Event Toolkit, which is a step-by-step guide designed to encourage local conversation and connection around the U.S. maternal mortality crisis. Interested organizations, health institutions, and individuals all can host a discussion and use the resources available in the Toolkit, including videos, printable articles, discussion questions, customizable invitations, and more.
The U.S. maternal mortality crisis is a problem that requires everyone's attention. We are a country with plentiful resources -- access to quality, evidence-based health care that yield a high rate of good outcomes for everyone is something that should already be in place. It's up to all of us to create meaningful, lasting change.