An ongoing Frontier investigation
The Frontier is reporting on maternal health in Oklahoma. If you have a story you’d like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow our work on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
In Oklahoma, one woman dies each month and 70 more have life-threatening complications. The lessons learned from their cases are, for the most part, uncharted.
Forgotten Mothers is an ongoing series by The Frontier to examine and investigate maternal health in Oklahoma.
The problem of maternal mortality has mostly gone uncharted in the state. Oklahoma has a state committee that looks into maternal deaths quarterly, but it has never issued a report on the 119 deaths reviewed since 2009. The lessons learned from those women’s deaths, at least so far, are mostly unknown.
“It just messes with my psyche a lot that people wouldn’t listen to me in a place you should be heard. I was highly informed, highly educated, did everything I could do in my case and bad things still happened to me.”
With a maternal mortality rate three times that of whites, pregnancy for black women in Oklahoma is sometimes a matter of life and death.
“What never stops shocking me is that regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of health, regardless of education, it doesn’t matter what the status is. It’s so much worse for black women.”
Though most women who give birth do so without any problems, any woman can experience complications. It’s important to be able to recognize warning signs and know what to do if they occur.
A review of eight maternal deaths found all but one could have been prevented.
Oklahoma is the fourth worst state in the U.S. for maternal mortality. For the past 18 years, 11 women on average die per year.