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% percent 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 Public Media 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.

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Episode 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 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 under-diagnosed 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.

Mothers First is a project of Improving Maternal Health Houston in partnership with Houston Public Media and is supported by Houston Endowment.

Mothers First Episode 1


Implicit Bias

Medicaid Postpartum Extension

Midwives and Doulas

Postpartum Tools

Improving Maternal Health Houston

Header Image by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash