Pregnant Women in Rural Areas Experience Limited Access to Maternal Health Care

Women in rural areas find it more difficult to get the care they need to deliver healthy babies as less attention is given to maternal health in rural parts of the country, including Alabama, according to a local news channel in Alabama.

According to the American Hospital Association, about 12 million women aged 15 to 54 live in rural areas, and more than 2.2 million live in maternity care deserts or have limited access to care. The association also stated that nearly half of rural hospitals across the U.S. don’t offer labor and delivery services, leaving expectant mothers in maternity care deserts.

Many pregnant women often travel long distances for delivery and prenatal care due to a lack of services or restrictions to a woman’s ability to access maternal care within these areas—a journey many cannot afford.

According to the president of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Don Williamson, several reasons exist why maternal health care is vanishing, especially in rural communities.

“You’ve got difficulty recruiting physicians in the rural areas, you’ve got a significant financial challenge of delivering, and liability has certainly been a problem as well. It’s not surprising that in significant parts of rural Alabama, we don’t have delivery services in those counties,” Dr. Williamson explained.

He also added that it takes a lot of money to run and maintain labor and delivery units because most rural communities have smaller populations—and thus fewer births, making the system unsustainable.

“The real challenge is for uninsured moms, and I think it’s no surprise that individuals who are uninsured tend to end up getting less prenatal care or getting it later, and that contributes to an outcome, both for moms and babies, that’s certainly less desirable,” Dr. Williamson said.

 

Source: WSFA-12 News