Maternal Mortality and Post-Delivery Warning Signs

Unlike women in the rest of the developed world, women in the United States remain at greater risk of dying from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 700 women die each year in the United States due to a pregnancy or child-birth related complication. Each year approximately 50,000 women experience severe maternal morbidity causing significant life-long health consequences. Alarming statistics reveal nearly two-thirds of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable and American Indian, Alaska Native and Black women are two to three times more likely to die than white women. 

Efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in Arkansas are taking place including the passage of Act 829 in 2019 which formed the Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee (AMMRC) January 2020. The purpose of a Maternal Mortality Review Committee is to perform comprehensive reviews of maternal deaths that occur within a year of the end of a pregnancy. The committee is tasked with making recommendations to prevent future maternal mortality and morbidity.

Hospitals throughout the state are implementing Maternal Safety Bundles which require action measures to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. The Maternal Safety Bundles include obstetrical hemorrhage, severe hypertension/preeclampsia, venous thromboembolism, reduction of low-risk primary cesarean births, reduction of peripartum racial disparities, and postpartum care access and standards.

Post-delivery is an important time to make sure mom and baby are healthy. Education is vital to successfully reduce and prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. Arkansas women and their family members are being empowered through education to recognize and report potentially life-threatening complications.

New mothers should be encouraged to trust their instincts about their bodies. Moms need to be aware of the many changes their body goes through during pregnancy and delivery. While there will be discomfort, soreness and fatigue, they must understand that some conditions need immediate medical attention.

The CDC’s campaign HEAR HER was developed to prevent pregnancy- related deaths through life-saving messages about urgent warning signs that may occur during or after a pregnancy. Women understand their own bodies and often know when there is something wrong. HEAR HER is a campaign encouraging everyone including family, friends and healthcare providers to listen when a pregnant or post-partum woman expresses that something does not feel right. Quick action can save her life.

Together, we can make a difference and decrease the number of families tragically affected by maternal mortality.

Kamilah’s Story

Web Resources

America’s Health Rankings: National Maternal Mortality, 2020

America’s Health Rankings: Health of Women and Children Maternal Morbidity in Arkansas, 2020

America’s Health Rankings: Health of Women and Children Report, 2019

America’s Health Rankings: Maternal Mortality Trend in Arkansas, 2019

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)

California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Hear Her Campaign

National Center for Health Statistics Health E-Stats April 2021 Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2019

Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System

Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care

Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care

Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Healthcare Urgent Maternal Warning Signs

Institute for Perinatal Quality Improvement (PQI)

March of Dimes

MERCK For Mothers

National Public Radio (NPR)

Special Series- Lost Mothers: Maternal Mortality in the U.S.

‘Near Miss’ Mothers: The Risk of Childbirth in America │ NPR

Review to Action

Working Together to Prevent Maternal Mortality

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Women’s Health Physicians (ACOG)

(The new ACOG website works best on current web browsers Firefox, Chrome, and Edge)[Maternal%20mortality]

Maternal Mortality[Maternal%20mortality]

Maternal Mortality in the United States
Recent Trends, Current Status, and Future Considerations 

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Patient Education

University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Antenatal and Neonatal Guidelines, Education and Learning System (ANGELS) Provider Education, Programs and Services


Reviewed and Revised July 2021