New Arkansas Organization Will Support Healthy Families by Listening to Parents, Advocating for Better Maternal Health Care


Arkansans for Improving Maternal Health promotes healthy moms, which leads to healthier families and stronger communities


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Jan. 17, 2024) — A new maternal health non-profit organization has launched a digital platform for Arkansas parents to share their personal experiences before, during and after pregnancy. Maternal healthcare includes prenatal care, safe delivery and postpartum support like mental healthcare.

 Driven by research that shows Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation and that healthy moms lead to healthier families and stronger communities, Arkansans for Improving Maternal Health (AIM) is gathering stories from families impacted by poor maternal health outcomes. The organization will amplify these stories to raise public awareness, cultivate champions for change and spur action to improve maternal healthcare access, affordability and quality. Arkansans are encouraged to visit to share their stories, connect with other parents and learn more about the challenges facing our state.

“Statistics are compelling, but thousands of families have stories about how poor maternal healthcare, including care after birth, set them on the wrong path at a moment when their family’s future should have felt so full of possibility. Our goal is to share the stories behind the numbers,” said AIM Executive Director Ashley Bearden Campbell. “These moms and dads, and their children, deserve to be heard.”

AIM for Arkansas will advocate for pro-family policies, including:

  Improved access: One of the most significant barriers to access results from inadequate public health insurance reimbursement rates. Low rates cause issues for hospitals in hiring doctors and nurses. To address the access gap, AIM will support increasing reimbursement rates for providers who deliver babies (both doctors and midwives).

  Improved affordability: The 2023 Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee report recommended extending insurance coverage from 60 days to one year postpartum “to monitor the mother’s physical and mental health.” AIM will support the bipartisan effort to increase Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum. Arkansas is one of only eight states that has not passed this life-saving legislation.

  Improved quality: All Arkansans should have access to highly skilled and licensed OB/GYNs and perinatal care providers. To ensure mothers and infants have the highest quality of care, AIM will support increasing funding for workforce training through medical schools and increasing the number of residency slots to train providers in the state.

Research by the Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee shows that 92% of maternal deaths in Arkansas could be prevented by enhancing the quality of maternal health care. Such efforts may include improving mothers’ current physical and mental health and reducing the number of cesarean sections. Half of Arkansas births come via c-sections.

An estimated one in 50 Arkansas women has a disease or illness that leads to significant health complications during pregnancy or the postpartum period that require hospitalization, according to Jennifer Callaghan-Koru, associate professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“A child’s future starts at home. We know that when moms do not have access to quality healthcare when they are pregnant, children are more likely to suffer over the long term,” Bearden Campbell says. “Not getting the right start in life can diminish educational outcomes and even erode our collective public safety. Arkansas must listen to these families in order to ensure a brighter future for our state and all its residents. With some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country, Arkansas policymakers have no time to spare.”

According to the March of Dimes, 45.3% of Arkansas counties are defined as maternity care deserts. Nearly half of the state’s 75 counties, 48%, do not have a single obstetric provider. Families, especially those in rural areas, also struggle to find hospitals to safely deliver their infants.

In May of 2022, Ashley delivered her daughter, Aubrey, via emergency cesarean at 28 weeks and 5 days. Aubrey weighed 2 lbs. 4 oz and had numerous health complications to overcome. A NICU nurse recognized signs of postpartum depression, anxiety, and PTSD Ashley was experiencing, and provided recommendations for mental health services.

In addition to her personal advocacy to improve maternal healthcare, Ashley has, for nearly 15 years,  provided strategic counsel and executed advocacy campaigns to support a wide range of clients at the local and state levels. Beyond her professional endeavors, Ashley is passionate about serving her community. She spends much of her free time volunteering and has served on numerous non-profit boards, including the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Race for the Cure, and 3 Miles of Men. She has also volunteered for Heifer International.