As an OBGYN, my goal is to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy patient. In fact, that should be the goal of all obstetrical care providers. However, we know, both in the medical community and as members of society, that healthcare is not equal and equitable for all pregnant persons. This inequality contributes to unnecessary loss of lives each year.
Over 700 pregnant persons die each year in this country from problems related to pregnancy and/or delivery. Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) pregnant persons are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts–and this disparity increases with age.
2/3 of pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. As many as 50,000 pregnant persons experience severe, unexpected health problems related to pregnancy that may have long-term health consequences.
During pregnancy, a person’s body goes through many changes. These changes are entirely normal, but may become very important in cases where there are complications or problems. Recognizing the urgent warning signs, getting an accurate and timely diagnosis, and quality care can save lives.
A person knows their own body better than anyone and can often tell when something does not feel right. If you feel like something is “off” or not right, call your medical provider immediately. Specifically, urgent warning signs and symptoms during pregnancy and in the year after delivery should be addressed quickly by a healthcare provider.
Seek medical care immediately if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms as these symptoms could indicate a life-threatening situation:
This topic is not the typical happy topic that expectant or new parents may want to discuss or think about, but educating yourself on health warning signs can save a life. It is important for expectant parents, new parents, partners with new babies, and support persons of new parents to know this information as well.
When you know what to watch for, you are better able to advocate if something arises. Together, through education, awareness, and advocacy we can reduce the maternal mortality rate.
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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