New research shows complicated pregnancies are happening more often in US

Doctors fear many expectant moms are not getting the healthcare they need

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – You’ve heard the saying, “When momma is happy, everybody is happy.”

A rising question is, “Are America’s hospitals failing new moms and their babies?”

A new national study of women between 18 and 44 shows that complicated pregnancies are happening more and more often throughout the United States, rising by 16% in the last four years.

That same study shows childbirth complications increased by almost 15%. Some doctors fear that too many expectant moms and new moms are falling through the cracks and not getting the healthcare they need.

“It’s hard to describe the size,” Maureen Luce, a mother said.

Whether it be delivering too early or struggling with anxiety during and after pregnancy, many mothers are at high risk when they are pregnant.

“I’m scared of what’s going to happen,” Brittany James, another mom said.

Both mothers were high risk when they were pregnant.

“We’re seeing more complications because more and more women are having issues with high blood pressure, with diabetes, with obesity. The time when you can make the most amount of impact on a pregnancy is during the preconception period,” Sean Daneshmand MD and perinatologist at Scripps Clinic said.

An emerging field of study, called epigenetics, now looks at how a woman’s environment and behavior can impact her pregnancy and the baby after birth.

“One of the things that I always tell patients is when you have no control over your DNA, what you are in control of is your environment,” Daneshmand said.

Getting enough sleep, exercising every day, focusing on nutrition, and managing stress can impact your child’s entire life.

A recent study published in the journal Jama Pediatrics suggests that a mother’s anxiety from conception through the baby’s first year of life can cause deficits in cognitive, language, and motor development.

“These children are at an increased risk for not only psychosocial issues, but also organic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer,” Daneshmand said.

At Scripps, they’ve created one of the first high risk pregnancy teams, with a complex care coordinator to help with nutrition, overall health, and mental wellbeing. A key component is making sure moms are doing emotionally well in the fourth trimester, after the baby is born.

“The future of America relies on our women. If you take care of women, we’re going to have that mom translate that to her family, to our community and eventually that’s how you’re going to live your best life,” Daneshmand said.

The high-risk pregnancy teams at Scripps also work with community organizations and charities to help expectant moms. He hopes what they’ve created will catch on and help to save more moms and their babies across the country.