Every year, women in Ohio and across the country die from maternal death and pregnancy-related death. Black women and Native American women 30 years of age and older died at rates of up to five times higher than white women.

When someone uses the term “maternal death,” they’re referring to the death of a woman who passes away either during her pregnancy or up to 42 days after the end of the pregnancy. When someone uses the phrase “pregnancy-related death,” they’re talking about the death of a woman who either died during her pregnancy or up to a year after the end of her pregnancy.

Many women die because of medical issues that are not discovered during their pregnancies. Some women have pre-existing conditions like heart disease that may get worse during pregnancy. Some women may get sick from treatment that they received during their pregnancies. Some women experience pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. Most often, the cause of maternal or pregnancy-related death was heart disease or stroke.

The hopeful thing to note is that many, if not most, pregnancy-related deaths are avoidable and preventable. Regular prenatal care can help keep mother and baby safe. The problem, however, is that many women don’t have access to good medical care, especially women of color. If they don’t have access to quality care, they’re much less likely to be aware of any hidden dangers lurking in their pregnancies. Finding medical providers who take women’s issues seriously is key.

When a mother passes away, her death affects the entire family, creating negative financial and mental consequences that can last years. People who need assistance with a maternal death case may benefit from working with lawyers who have experience in pregnancy-related medical malpractice cases.