Maternal Health

Maternal health is the equivalent of a canary in a coal mine, symptomatic of a much larger problem that must be addressed through community health efforts.
We pay special attention to maternal health in the context of community health for a few important reasons: 
  • The well-being of mothers and birthing people, infants, and children determines the health of the next generation and can signal future public health challenges for families, communities, and the medical care system. 
  • Maternal health outcomes in the U.S. have outsized racial disparities and demonstrate a system of inequitable care. 
  • Mental health matters. One out of five women and birthing people in the U.S. experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, the most common (and treatable!) pregnancy complication and a major contributor to suicide and overdose. 
  • Because improvements in maternal health outcomes are entirely reliant on overall improvements in the community health system of care at large.

We need to look at the broader failures of social support: lack of medical coverage, poor access to care, unstable housing, environmental toxin exposure, and high rates of substance misuse.


The image of a woman dying in childbirth in a hospital is only a part of the story.


The fact is, more women and birthing people die before birth and up to a year after giving birth than during childbirth.