Your Health Matters


CDC looking to empower expecting mothers and those around them, tackling high rate of maternity deaths

Posted at 1:05 AM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 10:21:59-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Every death is a tragedy, especially when it could be prevented. According to the CDC, every year around 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications in the United States. That is why they launched “Hear Her”, a campaign to raise awareness and provide educational material to empower pregnant and postpartum women.

“It just permeates an entire community, and there are signs and signals that we need to be aware," said Wanda Barfield, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "Most importantly I think we need to make sure that we’re letting women know that they know their bodies better than anyone else."

It was only last year that here in Bakersfield, a 23-year-old woman and her unborn son died following complications after being treated for swelling and high blood pressure. That woman, Demi Dominguez, was kept overnight and sent home with medication the next day. After returning for a follow-up and being sent home again, Dominguez began seizing and collapsed at home. She was rushed to the hospital where she died after delivering her son — who died a few hours later.

Since her death, her family has filed a lawsuit against two local OB-GYNs and Mercy Hospital of Bakersfield claiming they are responsible for her death.

“We need to listen, and we need to help them not only understand what these signals are giving them but we need to make sure they are connected to the appropriate health providers who could help save their lives," Barfield said.

The CDC said that as many as two-thirds of pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented, as long as you listen.

“In the many stories that we’ve heard about women who have died, that many of them expressed that they weren't being listened to. And we really want to elevate her voice by talking to those who are close to her," said Barfield.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Changes in your vision
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Overwhelming tiredness
  • Chest pain
  • Severe belly pain
  • Severe nausea and throwing up
  • Severe swelling
  • Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby

These red flags not only apply to expecting mothers but postpartum women as well. While a newborn baby needs a lot of attention and care, a new mother can experience pregnancy complications for up to a year after giving birth.
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