Health Officials Launch Campaign To Raise Maternal Mortality Awareness

Wednesday, November 4th 2020, 11:39 am
By: CBS News

Tens of thousands of moms suffer from life threatening complications related to pregnancy and childbirth every year. In a powerful new PSA campaign, the Centers for Disease Control wants you to hear the stories of mothers who almost lost their lives while trying to have a baby.

Nearly 700 mothers each year die from complications during and after pregnancy, according to the CDC. Mothers are increasingly dying from infection, hemorrhaging, and preeclampsia. According to the CDC, two-thirds of the deaths are preventable. The Hear Her campaign hopes to encourage mothers and those around them to know the warning signs. “A headache that seems severe and will not go away, unusual swelling of the feet,” says Dr. Wanda Barfield, the CDC’s director of reproductive health.

Dr. Barfield says the timing of the campaign is even more critical with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Women may be concerned that they can't be seen by a provider, but if they have a pregnancy-related complication or a significant warning sign, it's really important that they reach out,” Barfield says.

This campaign will target cities where maternal mortality rates are highest, including New York, St. Louis, and Atlanta.

Omari Maynard's partner died of a pregnancy complication. He says Shamony Gibson alerted doctors she was in pain, but she still died of a pulmonary embolism just days after an emergency C-section. “Do I feel like she was being ignored? I feel like the care could have been a lot better if they were listening to her,” Maynard says.

Gibson's two children are now growing up without their mom. “She just loved family, she loved her community, and, you know, she was just excited about being a mother,” Maynard says. He hopes the campaign will prevent his nightmare from happening to other families.

Mothers of color are disproportionately affected by pregnancy-related complications, according to the CDC.