CONYERS, Ga. —
We are wrapping up Women's Health Week with a sobering statistic for our state.
The National Institute of Health ranks Georgia at the top of the country for maternal mortality.
Makayla Walker is sharing what happened during her first pregnancy, which was normal until things took a turn.
"I ended up in the ICU with blood pressures in the 200s," Walker said.
Due to the blood pressure coupled with postpartum depression, Walker thought she was going to die. 11Alive medical expert and OB.GYN Dr. Sujatha Reddy said the signs usually show up after giving birth.
"The U.S. actually has the worst maternal mortality rate of the industrialized world," Reddy said.
Reddy said minority women are at a higher risk.
"African American women, specifically, have a much higher maternal mortality rate compared to Caucasian or white counterparts," Reddy added. "Be that some sort of bias in healthcare, access to healthcare. There's definitely a problem."
Reddy explained mothers should look out for the signs. If you experience severe headaches, dizziness, extreme swelling, a persistent fever, and any mental health issues, seek help.
Walker said sometimes it takes a second opinion.
"If they feel like something is wrong, explain it to your doctors. If you don't feel like you're being heard, go to a different doctor," Walker said. "Go until somebody listens to you."
Dr. Reddy agrees. She added to take notes at your appointments and bring a support person with you.
"You need to tell them everything that's going on and be comfortable," Reddy said. "You need to have access to them. You need to be able to reach them."
Reddy explained that mothers should be as healthy as possible. That could mean getting a Fit Bit to maintain a healthy weight. And if you have any medical conditions, keep them under control with your medication.
"Another thing that I think people often take for granted are birthing classes," Reddy said. "Those can really educate you as to what a normal labor should be like. And if you start to see yourself deviating from what you learned in class, you need to ask questions."
Walker published a postpartum workbook to help other parents. She wants to get the message out so no one has to go through what she did.
"It can be hard to admit that something's wrong, but let someone know that you are having a hard time because it can be fixed," Walker said. "There is help. You just have to ask."
Check out the postpartum book here.