Most people would assume that women no longer die in childbirth. And that’s somewhat true. Due to medical and technological advances in 20th century, we are better prepared to treat birth complications.
However, the CDC (Centers for Disease and Control Prevention) uncovers an opposing trend in deaths related to pregnancy, birth and postpartum stages.
The CDC implemented the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, which tracks the cause of death. Since then the number of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S more than doubled between 1987 and 2016. The chart below indicates 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 16.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016.
According to the CDC, the latest statistics from 2018 reveal 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in the United States.
Many studies also show the racial and ethnic disparities within maternal mortality. Between 2011-2016, black non-Hispanic women held the highest number of deaths per 100,000 live births. That number was 42.4 deaths compared to the 13 deaths for white non-Hispanic women and 11.3 deaths for Hispanic women.
The main key in these drastic differences reveals one truth:
“Variability in the risk of death by race/ethnicity indicates that more can be done to understand and reduce pregnancy-related deaths” (CDC).
There are numerous causes to maternal mortality. Some of these are unknown. But the top perpetrators are cardiovascular conditions, infections and hemorrhages.
According to Mama Natural, a family and parenting publisher, the U.S. isn’t providing women with the needed care. “There is very little education for moms and no routine care practice for moms until six weeks postpartum. The reality is moms don’t know what to look out for and postpartum conditions can escalate quickly, putting mom in a grave situation.”
Some European countries have implemented helpful practices for moms. Many extend maternity leave to one year. Others provide continuous care at home or in maternity centers for several weeks post-birth.
Unfortunately, the U.S. cultivates opposing ideas. Moms are expected to return back to work in several weeks. They see their doctor about a week post-birth. And even less frequently with passing time. Generally, moms spend the first moments of motherhood jumping straight back into their routine. As if nothing has changed. This pressure can result in overseeing warning signs that the body may be giving.
How about You?
You may think that asking for help makes you look incapable as a mother. But inviting family members, a friend, or hiring a doula is not a sign of weakness. Instead, having extra care during and after your birth is a necessity to your health.