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'I had my baby on the toilet': Columbia mother shares story of survival and heartbreak

Kamiko Ashley hopes her story will inspire new moms to get to know their doctor, and pay attention to any warning signs your body gives you while pregnant.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- This whole week, we've highlighted the growing trend of mothers in the U.S. dying during childbirth.

African American women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related deaths compared to any other race.

It's all part of our Mothers Matter series.

In our final segment, we highlight one Columbia mother's story of heartbreak and survival.

"When you go somewhere pregnant and come back home with no baby...it was heartbreaking," said 31-year-old Kamiko Ashley.

For every 13 white women, 44 black women die from childbirth-related causes.

Kamiko Ashley survived.

"My pregnancy in 2010, it was a boy," she said. "I was about 16 weeks and I went in [to the hospital] for pain."

Pain so early during pregnancy was new to Ashley. In the early 2000's, she had given birth to two healthy babies without complications.

"[Doctors] said I was having a miscarriage."

In the United States, black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related deaths compared to any other race.

"I pushed the baby, I saw the baby come out. I saw the baby's hands," said Ashley. "They put the baby in a blanket and they told me, 'Miss Ashley, we'll be back'. I said, 'Are you sure you're coming back?' They said, 'We'll be back. We'll bring the baby back'. After that, I never saw my baby again."

Ashley says once the nurses came back in her room, they were joined by a doctor and a priest.

"They came in with a box with pictures and footprints and the baby clothing the baby had on," she recalled.

Three hours later, she says she was released from the hospital.

In 2014, Ashley was five months pregnant, and in the hospital again.

"My pain level was so bad to where they had to give me Morphine," she said. "I was crying, holding my stomach, could barely move. I asked the nurse when she came back in, 'Are y'all sending me home? I don't think I can make it back home. I can't even walk to my car'. She said, 'No, Miss Ashley, we're just going to send you home and you just make sure you drink a lot of water and take Tylenol'."

"When I got home, I laid down, so much pain. I felt something kind of pop," she recalled. "Once I felt that, I lifted up off the chair and blood was coming everywhere...I grabbed my phone off the kitchen counter, came back to the restroom. Once I came back, I sat down and the baby came down on its own...I had my baby on the toilet."

For both miscarriages in 2010 and 2014, Ashley had preeclampsia -- or high blood pressure. While pregnant with her next baby, her blood pressure rose again.

"In 2015, which is my little boy, when I was delivering him my blood pressure shot up really, really, really high," said Ashley. "The room just felt hot like I was in a ball of fire. That's how hot it was...They gave me an Epidural, but by the time they gave me the Epidural, as soon as I leaned back the baby was on the way."

Ashley gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

Many women who experience preeclampsia during childbirth don't survive. It's one of the leading causes of maternal deaths.

South Carolina has the 8th highest maternal mortality rate in the country.

Ashley says she never missed a prenatal appointment.

"I advise the mothers of the Midlands to know their doctors, know what's going on in certain situations. If you don't think the situation is right, ask someone else," she said.

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