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Zabrina Cox, left, a labor and delivery nurse at Marian Regional Medical Center, with Sue Wilcox, director of perinatal services, holds a proclamation declaring Sunday as March for Moms Rally to Improve Birth Day. 

To call attention to the high maternal mortality rate and poor pregnancy outcomes in the United States, labor and delivery nurse Zabrina Cox is organizing a Rally to Improve Birth on Sunday.

Held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Edwards Community Center, located at 809 Panther Drive, the rally is in solidarity with the national rally in Washington, D.C., and scores of similar events held at the same time across the country.

During its Tuesday meeting, the Santa Maria City Council proclaimed Sunday as March for Moms Rally to Improve Birth Day.

Cox, who accepted the proclamation from Councilwoman Etta Waterfield, said the country needed to have a conversation about how to decrease the roughly 700 maternal deaths that occur in the United States each year.

“I’ve been a nurse for seven years and I’m just in disbelief,” Cox said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate out of any industrialized country. In 2015, one in 10 babies were born too early or premature in the United States.”

Over 50 percent of maternal deaths are considered preventable, Cox said. Maternal deaths refer to women who die while pregnant or within one year of giving birth.

“The objective is to acknowledge there are issues in maternal health care and start conversations about improving access to providers,” said Cox, who is also a certified doula and childbirth educator.

The rally is sponsored by Costco, Target and community members from around the Santa Maria area. During the event, there will be a bake sale, as well as a rummage sale of maternity and children’s clothes, books and toys.

Anything not sold will be donated to the Marian Regional Medical Center’s Pediatric Closet, which provides clothing and other essentials to families in need, Cox said. All the money raised will be donated to

In addition, the rally calls for supporting the passage of federal legislation that would seek to mandate 12 weeks of paid leave for all parents and establish maternal mortality review committees, which would work to identify why maternal deaths occur and help states identify solutions to decrease preventable deaths.

“I’ve seen when people have the tools to have positive births — when there is love and support, we can have healthy moms and babies,” Cox said. “Finding solutions to these issues is human kindness. Supporting mothers and babies is human kindness. I know there are issues in maternal care today, and I can’t go back and unknow it.”

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed


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