Earlier this week, the CDC announced that most pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable. The frighteningly high maternal death rate disproportionately affects minority women: For every 100,000 African American women who give birth to a live baby, about 43 die. That number for American Indian/Alaska Native women is approximately 33. For white women, however, it's ony 13.
What's especially heartbreaking about the new report is that the US maternal death rate doesn't have to be as high as it is. The report highlights the failings of health care providers tasked with keeping mothers and babies safe during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. A social media campaign called #WithoutMom, launched the day the CDC report came out, emphasizes the urgent need to lower the maternal death rate.
The #WithoutMom campaign, launched by the Rockefeller Foundation, draws attention to this alarmingly high maternal death rate, which is all the more shocking because the US is considered one of the most well-off countries in the world. "This is not just a problem in low- and middle- income countries. The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world where maternal mortality is on the rise—700 women die every year as a result of complications related to pregnancy or delivery," the campaign website reports.
"Up to 98% of all pregnancy and child-related deaths can be avoided by providing the quality, respectful care that women deserve throughout their lives and around childbirth," according to the campaign.
The campaign hashtag asks a scary question: Where would we be without moms? It brings home a reality that too many children, especially among minorities, live with because of the high US maternal death rate.
The #WithoutMom campaign released a video featuring celebrities talking about how important their mothers are to them.
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, known for fighting for women's rights in the face of violence, says in the video, "Thank you to my mother for inspiring me to always speak the truth."
Actress Regina King, thanking her mom in an acceptance speech at the 2019 Oscars, says, "I'm an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone."
And Daily Show host Trevor Noah explains how underappreciated moms often are. "I never thought it was about my mom," he says. "I think most of us believe that we're the heroes of our story."
But former First Lady Michelle Obama talks about the way most people probably feel about their mothers as they get older, saying, "There is no way I would be standing up straight on my feet if it weren't for my mom."
A call to action at the end of the video says, "The world loses when we lose mothers."