Translate page with Google

Project April 9, 2024

After Birth: The American Postpartum Crisis


Rudy Gibson applies makeup while holding her newborn son, Kulture, on November 8, 2023. Image by Florence Middleton. United States,

The maternal mortality rate in the United States is the worst in the world among high-income countries. But most deaths do not occur during pregnancy or birth. The postpartum period is the deadliest and most ignored stage of the pregnancy journey.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65% of pregnancy-related deaths occur during the postpartum period, or the first 365 days after birth. Despite this, many women in the U.S. navigate their postpartum period with little support and without health care. 

In 2023, Arkansas, the state with the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States, had the option to guarantee more new mothers health insurance after they give birth. It decided not to.

This project examines the maternal mortality crisis in Arkansas, why the state opted to not extend Medicaid postpartum health coverage when it had the opportunity, and what some maternal health experts are doing to address the crisis.