Renee Montagne

When Cayti Kane delivered a baby boy via cesarean section last year, her team of doctors was prepared.

Kane had been diagnosed with placenta accreta, a condition that increased the likelihood of a dangerous hemorrhage during delivery. When that happened, she had an emergency hysterectomy. Kane and her son went home healthy.

Samantha Blackwell was working her way through a master's degree at Cleveland State University when she found out she was pregnant.

"I was 25, in really good health. I had been an athlete all my life. I threw shot put for my college, so I was in my prime," she says with a laugh.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It seems every mother has a tale of discovering she was pregnant. Samantha Blackwell was working her way through a master's degree at Cleveland State, and she'd be the first to say her reaction may not be what you'd expect.

The opioid epidemic has hit Huntington, W.Va., very hard, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average.

Documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon chose Huntington as the setting for her short doc about America's opioid crisis, Heroin(e). It's now nominated for an Oscar.

On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving's "village" — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In recent months, mothers who nearly died in the hours and days after giving birth have repeatedly told ProPublica and NPR that their doctors and nurses were often slow to recognize the warning signs that their bodies weren't healing properly.

This story was co-published by NPR and ProPublica.

Four days after Marie McCausland delivered her first child in May, she knew something was very wrong. She had intense pain in her upper chest, her blood pressure was rising, and she was so swollen that she barely recognized herself in the mirror. As she curled up in bed that evening, a scary thought flickered through her exhausted brain: "If I go to sleep right now, I don't know if I'm gonna be waking up."

A joint NPR and ProPublica investigation finds the U.S. medical system can be unprepared when the complications of childbirth turn deadly. NPR reports on healthy mothers who developed one highly treatable complication — preeclampsia — and how it killed them.

As a neonatal intensive care nurse, Lauren Bloomstein had been taking care of other people's babies for years. Finally, at 33, she was expecting one of her own. The prospect of becoming a mother made her giddy, her husband, Larry, recalled recently— "the happiest and most alive I'd ever seen her."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: