WATCH: ‘Solutionaries: Motherhood’ | Ups, downs and people working to make moms’ lives better

Solutions journalism aims to find real answers to today’s problems

ORLANDO, Fla. – For as long as we know, mothers have faced pressure from society to look, act and feel certain ways.

From the very start of their pregnancy, moms report being bombarded with unsolicited advice, theories and opinions — sometimes from complete strangers.

Every week on Solutionaries, we examine big issues and highlight people working to solve them.

Today, we’re talking about motherhood.

Ensuring mothers — both young and old — are getting the best possible care benefits all of society.

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Maternal mortality

A recent report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of American women who died while giving birth spiked dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, with women of color being the most impacted.

Celena Martin, 23, was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant. But she was also concerned about getting the kind of care she needed.

“One of my biggest anxieties, if I have to go to the hospital is, like, I may not make it,” Martin told CBS News. “I have been dismissed for age, lack of education, or this perceived lack of education even just for asking too many questions.”

Data shows the percentage of mothers who died while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of their pregnancy grew at an alarming rate in 2021.

23-year old Celena Martin was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant, but she was also concerned about getting the kind of care she needed. Maternal death rates in the U.S. hit a 60-year high during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the death rate among Black women was nearly three times higher than it was for white women. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Mortality rates among Black women were 2.6 times higher compared to white women, according to the National Vital Statistics System.

One thing that could help is having a doula, someone who guides women through the complexities of pregnancy and birth.

Martin, a doula herself, has one for her own delivery next month.

“I think the biggest thing that a doula can do for you is empower you,” said Martin.

“It’s like calling your best friend because that’s what we need. We need to know that we’re being uplifted and taken seriously.”

Bringing prenatal care to moms

The need for prenatal care for un-or underinsured mothers is so great in Florida.

That’s why one woman decided to take a different approach to bringing care to moms who need it.

A bus converted into a mobile maternity clinic, called the Midwife Bus, is a one-stop-shop for expectant mothers to get the prenatal and postpartum care they need.

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To get in contact with the Midwife Bus to get help, or to donate, head to the Midwife Bus website.

Maternal mental health

According to the National Institutes of Health, around one in seven women experience symptoms like depression and anxiety after giving birth.

The Shades of Blue Project is bringing together mothers and community members to supply much-needed support to moms, from physical items to words of encouragement.

In December 2021, a study conducted by the University of Michigan Health found that 24% of pregnant and postpartum women reported unmet health care needs due to cost, while 60% reported health care unaffordability that had them worried about paying bills.

“We don’t talk about the postpartum period or maternal mental health and how it escalates from baby blues to anxiety to postpartum depression,” said Kay Matthews, founder of Shades of Blue.

“There are many different steps that we can actually help to stop by doing the little bitty things that can make a big impact.”

Keeping families together

Caring for children is expensive — and stressful — forcing some families to make the painful choice of placing their child in foster care.

Now, a Central Florida non-profit is offering a solution with the goal of keeping families together.

Nonprofit Healthy Families Seminole at the Children’s Home Society (CHS) of Florida has seen a 100% success rate last year.

Nonprofit Healthy Families Seminole at the Children’s Home Society (CHS) of Florida, working to keep families together and children out of foster care, is having 100% success this year.

Anyone can reach out to CHS and CHS accepts everyone. An assessment worker will contact the family and arrange a meeting.

You can learn more information about CHS here.

Supporting foster families

For some families, foster care is the only option.

That’s where a program called CarePortal comes in.

CarePortal connects churches and groups to help care for kids and families in need. Sometimes resources are available, but people don’t know where to send them.

Not everyone is called to foster or adopt children, and that’s OK. But there are really easy ways to help the families that are, by donating your time, items or even money.

Read more from the Solutionaries team here.

Exiting biological motherhood

Menopause signals the end of a woman’s reproductive window and the symptoms can be highly disruptive.

News 6 sister station KPRC spoke with a urogynecologist who says women are failing to get appropriate treatment for menopause symptoms and it’s putting their long-term health in jeopardy.

Read more from KPRC here.

Keep up with new episodes of Solutionaries on the News 6+ Takeover every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on News 6 or watch on demand by downloading the News 6+ for your smart TV (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV).

Solutionaries is a production of the news teams at Graham Media Group stations KPRC-Houston, WDIV-Detroit, KSAT-San Antonio, WKMG-Orlando, WJXT/WCWJ-Jacksonville, and WSLS-Roanoke. On Solutionaries, we’re highlighting the creative thinkers and doers who are working to make the world a better place.

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 3:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.