Mandi Schill’s pregnancy was healthy and uneventful, until she gave birth to her son and was diagnosed with preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy. After receiving treatment, Mandi returned home to care for her newborn son and manage her blood pressure.
“I was diligent about taking my medication and checking my blood pressure day and night,” says Schill.
One day, Mandi was preparing a bottle for her son when she suddenly felt as if she was going to faint. The feeling subsided but later that afternoon it returned and continued to magnify. She also became nauseous. Mandi’s sister Gina, who happens to be a nurse, called to check in with her and noticed something was wrong. She told Mandi to get to the Emergency Room (ER) immediately. Once in the ER, Mandi underwent testing that revealed she had suffered a stroke.
“I never expected the first night I spent away from my baby he would only be three weeks old, and that it was because I was in the hospital recovering from a stroke,” says Schill.
For the next year, Mandi had 20 different visits to her obstetrician, neurologist and family physician to monitor her risks for another stroke, as well as other postpartum complications. Today, she follows a healthy diet, exercises regularly and continues to monitor her blood pressure.
Other mothers aren’t as lucky as Mandi. Pregnancy-related deaths have been on the rise in Utah for the last decade. In 2017, Utah experienced 17.3 deaths for every 100,000 live births in the state. Currently postpartum Medicaid coverage is only 60 days but according to the Utah Perinatal Maternal Mortality Review, 65% of Utah’s pregnancy-related deaths happen between 43 and 365 days after birth. Data collection also indicates that 92% of deaths were preventable. The American Heart Association believes all mothers deserve quality care and coverage before, during and after pregnancy. We must improve our systems of care to reduce these preventable deaths and protect families. Mandi agrees.
American Heart Association