Maternal and Infant Health

Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, making it one of the riskiest places to have a baby. Our state also has the third-highest infant mortality rate, behind only Louisiana and Mississippi. This page highlights key statistics and other information about maternal and infant health in Arkansas. It is intended to raise awareness, promote discussion, and inform policymakers and stakeholders as they engage with this issue to make our state a healthier place for mothers and infants.

9 POINTS ON A HEALTHY BIRTHING JOURNEY

In an effort to raise awareness about Arkansas’s maternal and infant health challenges and suggest policy solutions, ACHI created an infographic depicting what a birthing journey for new mothers should be in order to achieve better maternal and infant health outcomes. 

Birthing Hospitals in Arkansas

More than half of rural hospitals in the U.S. no longer offer labor and delivery services, according to a report by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. At many hospitals that continue to offer labor and deliver services, those services are at risk due to challenges with the healthcare workforce and hospital finances that increasingly make it difficult to subsidize these departments, which are required to remain fully staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ACHI has identified 35 Arkansas hospitals that provide labor and delivery services. Among the state’s rural hospitals, 60% do not offer these services, which means expecting mothers must travel farther to deliver a child and receive appropriate prenatal and postpartum care, key points on a healthy birthing journey.

As of February 2024, Arkansas hospitals that provide labor and delivery services include:

  • Arkadelphia: Baptist Health Medical Center
  • Batesville: White River Medical Center
  • Benton: Saline Memorial Hospital
  • Bentonville: Northwest Medical Center
  • Blytheville: Great River Medical Center
  • Camden: Ouachita County Medical Center
  • Clarksville: Johnson Regional Medical Center
  • Conway: Baptist Health Medical Center
  • Conway: Conway Regional Health System
  • Dumas: Delta Memorial Hospital
  • El Dorado: South Arkansas Regional Hospital
  • Fayetteville: Washington Regional Medical Center
  • Forrest City: Forrest City Medical Center
  • Fort Smith: Baptist Health
  • Fort Smith: Mercy Hospital Fort Smith
  • Harrison: North Arkansas Regional Medical Center
  • Hot Springs: CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs
  • Hot Springs: National Park Medical Center
  • Johnson: Willow Creek Women’s Hospital
  • Jonesboro: NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital
  • Jonesboro: St. Bernards Medical Center
  • Little Rock: Baptist Health Medical Center
  • Little Rock: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Mena: Mena Regional Health System
  • Monticello: Baptist Health Medical Center – Drew County
  • Mountain Home: Baxter Regional Medical Center
  • Newport: Unity Health – Newport
  • North Little Rock: Baptist Health Medical Center
  • Paragould: Arkansas Methodist Medical Center
  • Pine Bluff: Jefferson Regional Medical Center
  • Rogers: Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas
  • Russellville: Saint Mary’s Regional Health System
  • Searcy: Unity Health White County Medical Center
  • Siloam Springs: Siloam Springs Regional Hospital
  • Stuttgart: Baptist Health Medical Center

Interviews

Radio station KUAF conducted three interviews with ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson for a series exploring in depth Arkansas’s high rate of maternal mortality. In the first episode, Dr. Thompson offers a general overview and discusses health issues prior to delivery. The second and third episodes focus on health issues during delivery and postpartum.

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KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 1
KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 2
KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 3

Public radio station KUAF also looked the role doulas could play in addressing this crisis in a story featuring interviews with ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson, Willow Creek Women’s Hospital CEO Juli McWhorter, and Melissa Eudey, a certified doula. Doulas are professionals trained in childbirth who provide emotional, physical, and other supports to pregnant or recently pregnant woman. For more on what doulas do, see our explainer.

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For Arkansas' maternal health crisis, doulas could provide a lifeline

Related Podcasts

Walk of Life: Dr. Kalena Jones

There are several programs underway in Arkansas aimed at improving maternal and infant health outcomes. One such program is Life360 HOMEs, part of Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME, the latest iteration of Medicaid expansion in the state. Life360 HOMEs are designed to provide additional, intensive supports to a number of target populations, including at-risk soon-to-be mothers. In this episode, we learn more about Maternal Life360 HOMEs with Dr. Kalena Jones, the system director of ARHOME programs for Baptist Health.

Danger Zone: Dr. Nirvana Manning

Moms are more likely to die during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth in Arkansas than in any other state. This is a shocking statistic, especially because maternal mortality is largely preventable. In this episode, host Craig Wilson asks University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Nirvana Manning what can be done to make having a baby in Arkansas less risky for both mother and child.

Where You Lead: Dr. Creshelle Nash and Dr. Neel Shah

Wonks at Work goes national. In this episode, host Craig Wilson talks to national and state leaders about how we can better equip those who want to start families to have better outcomes. Our guests are Dr. Neel Shah, a national leader in maternal health and chief medical officer for Maven, a virtual clinic for women’s and family health; and Dr. Creshelle Nash, medical director for health equity and public programs at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. The conversation touches on policy levers that could improve maternal and infant health outcomes, the need to integrate telehealth into the ways we currently provide services, and how we can restore trust in science and public health.

Giving Birth in America: Arkansas

Arkansas had the highest maternal mortality rate across the United States as of early 2023. As the country faces a maternal health crisis, Every Mother Counts explored what that looks like on the ground by sharing the personal stories of three new Arkansas mothers in this recent documentary, Giving Birth in America: Arkansas.