Maternal mortality has risen in Texas and across the country.
In 2010, the U.S. was ranked 50th out of a group of 59 developed countries.
Childbirth should be the happiest of times, an easy, natural physical process that ends in new life.
Even in Texas in 2011, that's not always the case. In Texas in 2008, 90 women died as a result of pregnancy or childbearing. Making it a maternal death rate of 22 per 100,000 births. A rate that's doubled in the past 10 to 15 years.
At the U.T. Health Science Center in San Antonio, OB-GYN Dr. Deborah Conway calls the trend "alarming".
"With modern medicine, there's no real good reason we should start to see increasing maternal mortality rates," said Dr. Conway.
The reasons are complex. Women are waiting until they're older to have children, inviting more pregnancy-related health problems like high blood pressure.
Cesarean sections are up, accounting for up to a third of all births. The looming obesity crisis triggered more surgical interventions as well.
"Both obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy, even in normal weight women, are both risk factors for cesarean section," said Dr. Conway.
Preventing a grim end to a joyous pregnancy should be a public health priority, according to some doctors, who say losing a mother-to-be is heartbreaking.
"There's no description for how devastating that circumstance is," said Dr. Conway.
Not all ethnic groups are affected equally by this trend. In Texas, African American women are more likely to die from pregnancy complications, followed by Caucasians, then Hispanics.