NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Physicians, community leaders and advocates gathered Tuesday evening to discuss the state of racial and ethnic maternal deaths and the factors that contribute to them.
Pregnancy-related deaths are still a major concern.
Among developed countries, the USA has the highest maternal mortality rate.
And if you’re a person of color, that rate increases 2.9 times for Hispanics, and 3-4 times higher for African Americans.
According to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, but that number has steadily increased from 20.1 in 2019.
The panel that joined Sentara Healthcare discussed this issue and answered questions from the public, emphasizing just how big of a problem it is and why access to pre- and post-natal care is so important.
They also highlighted the need for more culturally aware and empathetic physicians.
One woman who spoke about her own loss mentioned how she needed to push to be heard.
“I had preeclampsia during my first pregnancy, and that's how I lost my daughter,” said Heather Wilson, the executive director and founder of Kennedy’s Angel Gowns. “When I got pregnant the second time, I went to the specialist and at the specialist, they did not test me for preeclampsia for six months. I asked at every appointment; I did not see a doctor for six months, and I was not tested for preeclampsia. That, to me, is completely preventable. And when they did test me, I had preeclampsia. So, I almost went down the exact same path and had to fight again to save my second daughter.”
Two in three pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.
Those present said providing timely treatment and quality care can prevent many pregnancy-related deaths, but doctors must listen more to their patients' concerns.