Maternity care encompasses health care services for women during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.
There are nearly four million births in the U.S. each year. Access to quality maternity care is a critical
component of maternal health and positive birth outcomes, especially in light of the high rates of maternal
mortality and severe maternal morbidity in the U.S. A maternity care desert is a county in which access to
maternity health care services is limited or absent, either through lack of services or barriers to a woman’s
ability to access that care. This report begins to identify these areas by looking at the availability of hospitals,
health care providers, and means to pay for that care through health insurance.

Key findings:

  1. More than 5 million women live in maternity care deserts that have no hospital offering obstetric care and no OB providers.
  2. Almost 150,000 babes are born to women living in maternity care deserts.
  3. An additional 10 million women live in counties with limited access to maternity care.

Authors: March of Dimes

Publication Date: 2018

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