mothers First

mothers First

Harris County has one of the highest rates of maternal morbidity among metropolitan areas in the United States. Between 2008 and 2015, Harris County’s incidence of maternal morbidity increased 53%, compared to a 15%  increase for Texas overall.

Those affected are more than a statistic. Through our limited series, Mothers First, you will hear from women and experts as they share their stories of fighting through bias, cycling on and off Medicaid due to their status, the vital role of midwives and doulas, and the causes of maternal death post-delivery.

Join Houston Community Catalyst in partnership with Improving Maternal Health Houston. ( As we aim to debunk the many myths surrounding maternal mortality and provide women with information on how to care for themselves before, during, and after pregnancy.

#1 Implicit Bias

Implicit bias causes African American women to experience more
stress throughout their lifetimes, which adversely affects their health.
Their reproductive health may also be affected; social and
demographic biases have been shown to affect practitioners’
recommendations for long-acting reversible contraceptive methods.
During labor, African American women tend to be offered pain
medication later than are white women. In addition, African
Americans are less likely to be diagnosed with and appropriately treated
for heart disease, which is a leading cause of maternal death, both
before and after delivery. Postpartum depression and anxiety are
also underdiagnosed and undertreated in African American women.

In episode one, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, former City of Houston Poet Laureate, shares her pregnancy and birth story of her son, where she was dismissed. Dr. Carla Ortique, Healthcare Specialist and Co-Chair of IMH Houston, sheds light on the role that implicit bias plays in maternal mortality and morbidities.

#2 Pregnant On Medicaid

After the long process of applying for Medicaid, Juanita Coleman was
finally approved. That was not the end of her difficulties. Juanita was
12 to 13 weeks pregnant still trying to find a doctor accept
Medicaid as their only form of insurance. In episode two, hear from
Juanita as she shares her story of the care she received while on
Medicaid and the struggle of trying to stay insured.

Dr. Carla Ortique, Healthcare Specialist and Co-Chair of IMH Houston, lends her expertise to share that many maternal morbidities happen after pregnancy when women are no longer able to receive Medicaid.

#3 What Is The Difference Between A Doula And A Midwife?

Maternal mortality rates in the United States continue to rise, with ethnic and racial minority populations facing even starker statistics. Racial minorities have long supported the role midwives and doulas play in supporting a woman's health during pregnancy, at delivery, and in the postpartum timeframe. In Episode Three of Mothers First, we get a breakdown of what midwives and doulas are and the benefits a mother receives from their care.

#4 Domestic Violence

Dr. Conte Terrell didn’t think she would be a victim of domestic abuse., but at four months pregnant, she lost her baby at the hands of her ex-husband.
In episode four of Mother’s First, hear Dr. Conte’s heartbreaking story of domestic abuse and her journey to leave that relationship. Tianca Gillard, a community care coordinator for Healthy Women Houston, shares how the organization offers support to pregnant women who are experiencing hardships, such as domestic violence.
Over a third of domestic violence starts or gets worse when a woman is pregnant. More than 14% of maternal deaths occur in women who have told their health professional they are in an abusive relationship. Domestic abuse during pregnancy puts you and your unborn child in danger. It increases the risk of miscarriage, infection, premature birth, and injury or death to the baby.
If you or someone you know if a victim of abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)