3 Ways to Improve Maternal Health, From a Pelvic PT

Well Sh!t, Pelvic Floored Family, this is a post that I suppose I never thought I would have to write.

Maternal Mortality Rates in the US are Skyrocketing.

They rose 40% in 2021, compared to 2020.

So I felt compelled to write a post explaining 3 EASY ways to improve maternal health, from a double board certified Pelvic PT.

A very pregnant Dr. Kelly looks out over a full river. Health screenings are very important at every stage of life, but ESPECIALLY so when you are pregnant.
A VERY pregnant Dr. Kelly wants to remind you to stay on top of your health screenings, especially when pregnant.

Hey y’all, it’s me, Dr. Kelly Sadauckas, DPT, OCS, WCS, one of a handful of Doctors of Physical Therapy IN THE WORLD who are double board certified in Pelvic Health AND Orthopedics, and I am here to begin to demystify some things related to the United States’ abysmally high maternal death rates, and to give you THREE CONCRETE TIPS to improve maternal health, for yourself, or a loved one.

The data behind the post.  Maternal Mortality (Death) Rates increased 40% between 2020 and 2021.

Yep.  It’s true. You can read about it here.  The New York Times just let the world know that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Maternal Mortality Rates, 2021, the Maternal Mortality Rate increased by 40% in 2021 versus 2020.


And we know from prior blog posts that women of color die of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions at a rate of 3-6x greater than whites, so this is something that we have to continue to talk about.

Will you help me spread the word?

THREE EASY ways to improve maternal health.

1. Sleep on Your Left Side

Studies abound to show that a pregnant human who lays on their left side has a CONSIDERABLY reduced chance of late-term (>28 weeks) stillbirth as well as reduced risk of pre-eclampsia.

It’s true, you can look it up.  Check out these amazing studies:
* Stacey, et all, 2011 (BMJ 2011;342:d3403): Found that women who went to sleep on their backs or right side the night before their stillbirth, were more likely to miscarry than those who went to be on their left side.
* Owusu, et al, 2013 (PMID: 23507553): Found that people who went to bed on their backs had an 8x greater risk of stillbirth, and a considerably higher risk of pre-eclampsia than people who went to bed on their left sides.
* Warland, et al, 2011 (PMID: 24731396): Says that sleeping on your back or right side isn’t the ‘only’ cause of a stillbirth, but it is likely “the last straw” in a stillbirth situation.
* The Sydney Stillbirth Study (Gordon, et al, 2015; PMID: 25568999: The supine (on your back) sleep position may be a significant contribution in late-stage stillbirth.

2. Exercise

I’ll be chatting about the importance of exercise while pregnant in the next blog, but to summarize: PLEASE.  If you are pregnant, and ESPECIALLY if you are a beautiful woman of color (who is at higher risk of death just because of the color of her skin 🙁 🙁 🙁 , I need you to exercise.  Unless you have a condition like placenta previa, or another condition that your medical team has expressly told you to not exercise (& can exactly explain why that is a danger to you), the evidence ABOUNDS that 20-30 minutes of exercise, even just 3 days a week, will significantly reduce your risk of serious health complications during pregnancy.

3. Eat Some Veggies!

Eating Cruciferous Vegetables (leafy greens) has been proven to reduce your risk of developing pre-eclampsia, which is a TERRIBLE blood pressure/multi-organ failure condition that results in deaths of mom and baby prenatal, and sometimes mom, postpartum.  Yes, postpartum pre-eclampsia is a thang. Don’t let ANYONE minimize the importance of your headaches, sweetheart.

And about the veggies?  It’s true, you can look it up: start with Perry A, Stephanou A, Rayman MP. Dietary factors that affect the risk of pre-eclampsia. BMJ Nutr Prev Health. 2022 Jun 6;5(1):118-133. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000399. PMID: 35814725

Those are 3 EASY ways to improve maternal health for you to start working on TODAY!

Thanks for reading, Pelvic Floored Family!  Check out some relevant courses below, and be sure that you are signed up for my Newsletter (form at bottom of all web pages) to be kept up to date on this, and other fascinating and vital topics!

XOXO Dr. Kelly

A Pregnant Dr. Kelly lifts weights in her 2nd Trimester

The Pregnancy Course

An incredible lesson in your amazing changing body! We cover ‘what’s happening in there’ with respect to you and baby, to how to handle pains, sex AND even build strength during pregnancy. You don’t want to miss this! $199.

The Pregnancy Course

Formerly, Your RAD Pregnancy, this class is proudly presented with Dr. Chrissy Clark, Board Certified Doctor of Physical Therapy in Pelvic Health AND CrossFit Level 2 Coach (as well as lifetime athlete and coach!). Your Purchase includes 2 hours of Bump Lab, a 2-hour journey in “what’s happening inside” you AND baby during your pregnancy. It also includes 12 guided weight lifting workouts, with education on exactly how, and why, we modify exercises during pregnancy to keep you thriving! You DO NOT want to miss this!

Don't forget Push Prep!

You should spend AT LEAST as much time preparing your vag and pelvis for delivery, as you spend on decorating the nursery! While The Pregnancy Course is all about strength and health in your whole pregnancy, Push Prep is ALL ABOUT THE BIG DAY! Check it out!
A very pregnant Dr. Kelly bends forward over a Birth Ball, a strategy she learned in Pelvic Floored's Push Prep Course

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