Tuesday evening, the March of Dimes hosted a lovely event honoring ProPublica’s Nina Martin as she discussed her Lost Mothers project (with NPR) on maternal mortality and improving prenatal and postnatal care for women. Nina offered ideas for how one person can make a difference in this fight for women and babies as well as gave insights on the work that still needs to be done.  

  • No one is talking

Nina mentioned that one of the biggest challenges when she and her team were conducting their research is that they had a difficult time getting women to talk to them, especially African American women. The women were traumatized by their experiences, they had been so used to not talking about about them it was difficult to bring to the surface that deeply rooted pain. Their experiences were private and some women were ashamed by them. For many of them it was their first time sharing their story with a non-family member. They didn’t have the platform to share their stories until the Lost Mothers interview.


  • Babies over Mommies

Over the course of time, our healthcare system has placed greater emphasis on the care of the babies than the care of the mothers. There is so much attention to the monitorings, ultrasound screenings, and prenatal care.  When you compare the amount of prenatal visits to the one, perhaps two postnatal care visits if you are lucky, it is very unbalanced. Everything is done to make sure the baby is okay but as far as the Mom goes, her blood pressure is barely taken during prenatal visits. After a woman gives birth, our system is broken, there is a severe lack of postpartum care. We must work in our communities to provide the support and resources to ensure mothers are receiving proper postpartum care.  

  • How Can I Help?

Nina emphasized throughout the night that we all need to help each other be better advocates. Doulas can help women and family members advocate for themselves and their loved ones and improve their short-term and long-term care. In those instances, where a woman can not afford a doula, have a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or friend attend doctor’s appointments with you.  During a recent interview with a physician, Nina learned that doctors tend to listen when they have a group of people voicing a concern about something versus just the mother. We all need our teams. Go and help that pregnant and new mom in your life.

During my own twin pregnancy with Katie and Lauren, I almost died twice. I often think about what would have happened if I hadn’t voiced my concerns to my doctor, repeatedly. Over the next few months I’ll be exploring this topic of maternal mortality and morbidity and how collaborating with your healthcare team is the key to the best outcome for any patient.  

Me and my friend Katie that works at March of Dimes