Every day women in the U.S. become pregnant and, after the initial excitement, are hit with a harsh realization: They won't be able to have prenatal care.

Many of these women live in maternity care deserts, areas that do not have any hospitals providing obstetric care, birth centers or practicing OB-GYNs or midwives. Others don't have reliable transportation to travel to and from appointments. Some realize they simply can't afford the care they need.

"So they say, I'll wait," said Billie Hamilton-Powell, a certified nurse-midwife in Washington, D.C. "They don't come in until it's time to have the baby."

By then, it's often too late to manage any pregnancy-related complications, which experts believe is contributing to the poor maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates in the U.S., particularly among women of color.

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