There's no arguing that being pregnant is a stressful experience. Between all of the symptoms, doctors appointments, and general preparations that take place before a baby arrives, it's enough to make any expectant woman worry. But what happens when a natural disaster gets added to the mix?
The latest installment of CNN's documentary series Giving Birth in America, produced by the maternal advocacy organization Every Mother Counts, explores exactly that. Filmmakers traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana shortly after the city was ravaged by floods in 2016 to document the experiences of pregnant women and healthcare providers who were affected by the disaster.
Not only can disasters like the floods place additional economic burdens on mothers, but they can also have a huge impact on their mental health, as seen in the film.
“The storm created a great deal of anxiety for all our patients," Marshall St. Amant, MD, a doctor at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, said in the film. “The flood absolutely changed patients’ demeanor, patients’ pain, patients’ depression."
These experiences weren't all unique to the women profiled or to mothers in Louisiana. Recent hurricanes have had similar impacts on pregnant women in Houston and Puerto Rico, according to the film's producer, Clancy McCarty.
"This is a really intense and vulnerable time where you usually have support, but it's stripped away," McCarty says. "The U.S. already has such a poor outcome for pregnant women, and this just adds one more barrier to care."
Every Mother Counts hopes that the film will bring more awareness to those poor outcomes, and especially the issues faced by pregnant women after natural disasters like the Louisiana floods. The organization has been hard at work in areas recently affected by hurricanes. They raised more than $30,000 each for efforts in both Texas and Puerto Rico, providing necessary medicine, supplies, volunteers, and medical professionals.
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