DES MOINES, Iowa — According to Hopkins Medicine, approximately 8 percent of all pregnancies involve some sort of complication.

There are two main aspects of expecting women’s health: one being the health of the mother and the other being the health of the baby.

Dr. Mandsager, a maternal and fetal medicine doctor at MercyOne Hospital, said there are some notable trends regarding why maternal mortality rates are climbing in the United States.

“Bleeding, around the time of delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, and the other is hypertensive disorders, primarily preeclampsia,” said Dr. Mandsager.

Additionally, the risk factors surrounding these trends like obesity and advanced age are also rising.

“So the bottom line is, it is a combination of we as physicians and healthcare providers needing to do better, but it’s also that we are dealing with a higher risk population,” Dr. Mandsager added that it is harder to treat these issues while a woman is pregnant.

“It is difficult to make major changes in your health care once you get pregnant. It’s nine months, so that’s not enough time to make a significant change in your own health care.”

Dr. Mandsager suggested women should take charged of their own health before they plan to become pregnant.

“We strongly encourage women come in for a pre-conceptual consultation if at all possible,” said Dr. Mandsager.

And if unable to do so, MercyOne works to ensure that patients are helped if a pregnancy-related complication arises.

“We have what is called an obstetric emergency department, which allows us to guarantee that every patient that comes into our triage area will be seen by a physician within 30 minutes,” said Dr. Mandsager.

Even if a mother isn’t at risk for these complications during pregnancy, monitoring a baby’s health at home is equally important. A local non-profit organization is helping empower women to do just that.

Count the Kicks specializes in helping women understand their baby’s movement within the third trimester of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirths.

“There are so many risks in pregnancy and stillbirth isn’t talked about very much, so oftentimes this happens and parents didn’t even know it was a possibility,” said Jodi Long, health equity director for Count the Kicks.

In Iowa, around 177 babies are lost each year due to stillbirth alone. Long said “getting to know that baby’s movement pattern and being familiar with it is really important so if that were to change, a mom can say this isn’t feeling right.”

That’s why Count the Kicks created an app that allows women to monitor and log the amount and the strength of their baby’s kicks from the comfort of their home.

“Research shows that a baby’s movement is often the only sign or an early sign that the baby might be in distress,” Long said.

The app allows expecting parents the chance to inform their doctor if they start to notice any abnormalities with their baby’s movement.

“So this is just a simple tool for them to use to help keep track of their baby’s movements and to speak up,” said Long.

Although a simple tool, it’s making a big impact, with over 110 babies saved nationwide, and 40 babies saved in Iowa.

“With Count the Kicks we play a small role, and just a little tool, that is so simple just to bring a baby here safely,” said Long.

And overall, help Iowa women have safe, healthy, and successful pregnancies

“It’s on us to understand why that’s the case, you know I am not walking in their shoes, so I don’t know,” said Dr. Mandsager.

“Because we know we can make Iowa an even better place to deliver babies,” said Long.