The United States holds the record for the highest maternal death rates in the world. “In the U.S., 700-900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth- related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die- by many measures, the worst recorded in the developed world.” Though the causes for these deaths vary, lack of care for mothers affect women throughout the world, both before and after childbirth. What are the causes of these deaths? How can we prevent and help this issue?
Maternal deaths throughout the world are caused for a plethora of reasons. Lack of standardized policies, inadequate clinical skills, failure to consult specialists, poor coordination of care, and preeclampsia are just a few common ways why women lose their lives when having children. The reason why the U.S. has higher maternal mortality rates is because new mothers are older than they used to be, they have more complex medical histories, half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, there are more needs for C- sections, there are higher risks for life-threatening complications, and lack of good health insurance.
After mothers give birth to their babies, the newborns are rushed away to highly trained specialists, while the mothers are tended to by nurses and doctors who are not ready to deal with complications in the mother’s health. When attending medical school, many young doctors who want to specify in this field, aren’t required to spend time learning how to care for birthing mothers. Some doctors even graduate maternal-fetal medicine training without even being in a labor and delivery unit. When mothers are discharged, they are instructed in how to care for their babies, such as breastfeeding, but are never given information on how to manage their own health during postpartum. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy/ advocacy at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states, “ We worry a lot about our vulnerable little babies, we don’t pay enough attention to those things that can be catastrophic for women.”
During pregnancy, many women suffer from preeclampsia. Preeclampsia (a.k.a. pregnancy- related hypertension) is a “little- understood condition that affects 3 percent to 5 percent of expectant or new mothers in the U.S., up to 200,000 women a year… It is most common during the second half of pregnancy, but can develop in the days or weeks after childbirth, and can become very dangerous very quickly.”
We cannot let the care of our mothers be neglected. Many causes that lead to maternal deaths can be prevented. We need to be aware of the medical errors that continue to happen. Many hospitals don’t want to provide resources to change this issue because they don’t see it as an issue. “The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development.” We need to make this issue out in the open. Stand up and help the many women in our lives live not die.