Maternity care is the health care women get during pregnancy, labor and birth and in the postpartum period after giving birth. Getting quality maternity care can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. But not every woman in the U.S. gets good maternity care. One reason for this is because they live in a maternity care desert. A maternity care desert is an area where there are not enough hospitals, health care providers or health care services for pregnant and postpartum women.
A new report from March of Dimes shows where maternity care deserts exist and how they affect the health of moms and babies. Here are some of the findings:
- More than 5 million women in the U.S. live in a maternity care desert.
- About 1,085 counties in the U.S. have hospitals without services for pregnant women.
- Almost 150,000 babies are born to women living in maternity care deserts.
- Counties with maternity care deserts have a higher number of people living in poverty.
Maternity care deserts are a problem for all of us.
Having good quality and on-time health care services can help women have healthier pregnancies and babies. Through health checkups, a provider can spot health conditions and treat them before they become serious. Women who live in maternity care deserts may be at higher risk of having serious health complications and even death. Babies who are born prematurely or with special health conditions may not get the medical care they need in counties with maternity care deserts. The health of moms and babies is at risk when they live in counties with maternity care deserts.
The United States is facing a maternal health crisis.
More than 700 moms died due to pregnancy-related causes this year alone, making the United States one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to give birth. Women of color are most at risk of facing life-threatening complications. Black women are three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes. More than 50,000 women have a near-miss (nearly die) from severe complications from labor and childbirth every year.
What can you do?
You can take action now and help us fight for the health of all moms.
- Visit marchofdimes.org/blanketchange to learn more about what you can do to help every pregnant woman in America get the care she needs.
- Learn about the signs and symptoms of health complications after birth. Knowing when something is not right can help save your life. Sharing this information may help save others.
- Join the March of Dimes advocacy network to support legislation that can help protect all moms and babies.