NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Every year, tens of thousands of mothers suffer life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Wednesday, there’s a new campaign to help moms survive, which is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic.

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It comes as a surprise to many women and their partners that childbirth, while perfectly natural, can sometimes also be a serious health risk. The key to a good outcome is preparation and vigilance.

In a powerful new PSA campaign, the Centers for Disease Control wants you to hear the stories of mothers who almost lost their lives while trying to have a baby.

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Nearly 700 mothers each year die from complications during and after pregnancy. Omari Maynard’s partner was one of them. He said Shamony Gibson alerted doctors she was in pain, but she still died of a pulmonary embolism just days after an emergency C-section.

“I feel like the care could have been a lot better if they were listening to her,” Maynard said.

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Surprisingly, mothers are increasingly dying from infection, hemorrhaging and pre-eclampsia. Yet, two-thirds of the deaths are preventable. The Hear Her Campaign hopes to encourage mothers and those around them to know the warning signs.

“A headache that is severe and will not go away, unusual swelling of the feet,” said Dr. Wanda Barfield, the CDC’s director or reproductive health.

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Barfield said the timing of the campaign is even more critical with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Women may be concerned that they can’t be seen, but if they have a pregnancy-related complication, it’s really important that they reach out,” Barfield said.

“She loved her family. She loved her community. She was excited about being a mother,” Maynard said.

The campaign will target cities where maternal mortality rates are highest, including New York, St. Louis and Atlanta, areas where mothers of color are disproportionately affected by pregnancy-related complications.

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