LaGRANGE, Ga. (WRBL) – Dr. Natalie Hernandez, the Executive Director of the Center for Maternal Health Equity and LaGrange OBGYN, Dr. Joy Baker M.D. are conducting a maternal morbidity and mortality research study. The study, Prevent Maternal Mortality using Mobile Technology, PM3, focuses on the maternal morbidity and mortality rates of black women in rural communities. A topic that Dr. Baker calls, ‘a real public health problem’.

“Black women experience death three times more than their white counterparts in the United States. In Georgia specifically, black women are 2.7 times more likely to die during or around the time of childbirth,” said Dr. Baker.

She credits the high numbers of maternal morbidity and mortality to systemic racism and the lack of concern often displayed by doctors.

According to Dr. Baker, black patients are twice as likely to experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS) and four times as likely to reject treatment due to fear of being stigmatized. She said she screens her patients and discusses the importance of treating their mental health to change the narrative. 

The study is centered around the postpartum period of childbirth because according to Dr. Hernandez that is when the most maternal deaths happen for women. They hope to increase the number of postpartum visit attendance among mothers in underserved communities. 

Dr. Hernandez said the study aims to engage postpartum black women in rural communities in a free and convenient way that allows them to feel heard and is being driven through a mobile application. The application provides resources like remote health monitoring, community testimonies, access to different medical providers, and focus groups. 

Dr. Baker said an important detail of the study is the testimonies given by the women who have received a lack of attentive care. She said that is why it is so important to her to work and give back in a community that is experiencing high numbers of maternal morbidities and mortalities. 

“In all we do we want to center the lived experiences. We believed that lived experiences of pregnant persons is expertise, they’re legitimate sources of data,” said Dr. Hernandez. 

Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Baker agreed that a common trend they have found among the women sharing their testimonies is oftentimes they feel dismissed and unheard. 

If anyone is interested in participating in the study and is in their third trimester of pregnancy, please visit pm3forme.com.