BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– According to the Mayo Clinic, between 2000 and 2023 the rates in the U.S. for maternal deaths increased by 78 percent. Local health care professionals are working to lower Black maternal death rates.

It started out with two family members throwing out an idea about a maternal health baby shower expo. After a week of planning, the vision came to life. A vision geared to support and educate expecting Black mothers throughout the capital area.

“A lot of people, they aren’t educated on Black maternal health so that was something we wanted to be able to provide,” Kayla Bryant said.

One mother said she looks forward to more maternal health expos due to health conditions during her first pregnancy.

“We have the highest mortality rate infant and women and I feel like that’s an important thing to know because a lot of women have a lot of health issues. I have health issues myself during my pregnancy and with my first child,” Audrey Martin, expecting mother said.

Martin is nine months pregnant with her second child. During her first pregnancy, she experienced a condition called deep vein thrombosis, but doctors told her she was experiencing normal pain. Martin said to never settle with the first opinion.

“If I had listened to the doctors in my first child and let them brush it off, I could have been dead and my child,” Martin said.

Nanette McCann is a birth and postpartum doula. A doula takes a comprehensive approach to support expecting mothers throughout their pregnancy. She said that anyone can receive doula services regardless of the birth plan or the health provider.

“Thanks to the legislature that was passed last year. Doulas are covered by Medicaid. So Medicaid reimbursement is available and their, the doula services will be billed to Medicaid for reimbursement as opposed to an out of pocket cost to the patients,” McCann said.

Martin said despite race everyone should seek a health care professional that’s right for them.

“I will hope that they keep doing these, so that women can get the information and the resources that they need,” Martin said.