In a feature for The Commonwealth Fund, authors Martha Hostetter and Sarah Klien explored the options, or lack thereof, for expectant mothers in rural parts of America. What they found was “maternity deserts”; large areas where mothers have to travel, often hundreds of miles, just for their pregnancy checkups.

From the story: “Driving long distances for care and other scenarios — like giving birth in ambulances or forgoing prenatal and postpartum services — are playing out across rural communities across the country as obstetric (OB) facilities or whole hospitals close and people travel farther for maternity care. As of 2014, more than half of rural counties in the U.S. were considered maternity care deserts, with no hospital-based obstetric services; worsening access has contributed to increases in maternal mortality and morbidities among rural residents, particularly Black women.”

To read the full story, and to see what regional health care providers are doing to try and close gap between rural mothers and the lack of maternity care, click here.