MILWAUKEE — New data shows most deaths — more than 80% — during pregnancy and in early postpartum are preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at numbers from 36 states, including Wisconsin. It found most of those deaths were related to mental health.

Sarah Bloomquist is the executive director and co-founder of Moms Mental Health Initiative, or MMHI. The nonprofit helps mothers in southeast Wisconsin navigate perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Bloomquist explained there is still a lot of a stigma about reaching out for help. She pointed out shame is one of the biggest deterrents for moms.  

“You’re dealing with something that’s at your core, motherhood. Surrounding your child, these expectations you might have, there’s a lot of shame when you feel like you’re not doing the motherhood role that you’re supposed to,” Bloomquist said.

She said around 75% of those who screen at-risk for a perinatal mental health disorder don’t receive treatment, which affects more than just that immediate family.

“So when you look at the numbers ... about $32,000 is spent per mother/baby unit for postpartum depression and related conditions. If we look at that in Wisconsin and we look at the birthrate, we’re saying over $300 million dollars is spent due to this lack of treatment,” Bloomquist noted. 

According to Bloomquist, the latest data from Wisconsin’s Maternal Mortality Review Board shows about 97% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

“We’re looking at over 50% of these deaths being related to a mental health condition ... suicide, overdose,” she said.

To learn more about this issue and how MMHI helps Wisconsin moms, watch the full interview above.