Maternal mortality high in Georgia, across the country


The state of Georgia ranks among the highest for women dying while pregnant or after delivering their baby.  It’s part of a national problem killing hundreds of women each year.  

Two women die each day.  That’s 700 every year.  And there are a lot of factors – age, your health before pregnancy and access to care.  It’s becoming such a big problem that medical staff at Augusta University Medical Center is placing a Save Your Live Post-Birth Warning Signs fact sheet in the hands of each woman post partum in order to keep her alive.  

Burshaunda Wade is expecting now.

“At the time of giving birth you’re in a lot of pain and you just want to get that pain over with.”

At the age of 24, she is preparing for her third child.  And she’s having a C-Section.  But little does she know it is one of the contributing factors doctors believe leads to maternal mortality. 

“I’m more nervous that I’m going to be having this baby sooner than expected not so much of a concern for my life.”

Augusta University Medical Center’s OB and Gynecology Specialist, Dr. Chadburn Ray, says he’s seen an increase in the past decade in women dying while pregnant or within a year after giving birth.

“The most dangerous time in the pregnancy is in the hours and day immediately after the delivery,” he said.  “There are three problems.  The patient, the provider, the system.”

Dr. Ray added women are having more issues due to not being healthy prior to getting pregnant, such as having high blood pressure.  Factors such as being older than 35, African American or being overweight contribute too.    

“We’re seeing more women die from cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular death.  We seeing more women have peripartum cardiomyopathy, which specifically in the state of Georgia is a significant cause of maternal mortality.  We’re seeing more deaths due to hemorrhaging,” he explained.

Dr. Ray said insurance companies are paying for shorter stays after labor too.  But it is vital that the patient also comes back for her six week check up. But distance can prevent that before and after the baby arrives. 

He added, “As we see more hospitals close and we can actually capture that data then we will likely see that the distance from the hospital will also make a difference in ones complication related pregnancies.”

Dr. Ray, along with the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, wants to place a toolkit in the hands of every OB doctor.  The toolkit is a binder on Optimizing Management of Obstetric Hemorrhage.  It’s a book that explains how to prevent maternal death and the signs that often go unnoticed by the patient and the doctor. 

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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