Pregnancy is risky, and Naima Joseph sees the perils firsthand every day. For some patients, it might be a cardiac injury, their heart issues worsened by having to pump enough blood for two. For others, it might be a uterine infection, or a hemorrhage, or a case of pre-eclampsia.
These are the complications we tend to imagine when we think of America’s maternal mortality crisis: Underlying chronic disease, insufficient access to care, cellular cascades gone wrong. Yet the leading cause of death during pregnancy and in the post-partum period is, in fact, homicide — and suicide rates in the months around pregnancy are on the rise.