Pregnancy comes with a mix of discomfort and happy anticipation of the appearance of a new member to the family. Both mother and father await the new arrival by buying baby clothes and setting up a nursery.
Finally, the happy day arrives, and the mother prepares to give birth. There is an adage that a woman never comes as close to death than when giving birth.
Unfortunately for too many women, that statement becomes a reality as approximately 830 women in the world die in childbirth every day.
In this article, we will discuss the many causes of this statistical tragedy and how you can help save your and millions of other women’s lives.
Where Are New Mother’s Most Likely Die?
Although women die in childbirth all over the world from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, 99% of them live in developing countries.
In India alone, five women die every hour giving birth (45,000 per year.) This figure makes India take part of the blame, 17% of all maternal deaths in the world.
However, India is only a part of the problem as maternal deaths occur not just in developing countries but in the heavily industrialized countries like the United States too.
The United States, which prides itself on its advanced medical knowledge, experiences 135 mothers dying in childbirth per day or approximately 50,000 per year.
This figure from the U.S. is far above any other industrialized country such as the U.K., Portugal or the Netherlands.
Dying in childbirth isn’t just one countries problem, it is a human problem that should not be.
Which Mother’s Are More Likely to Die?
Maternal mortality impacts women living in rural areas and among more impoverished communities the most. Adolescent others face a much higher risk of complications and death than any other demographic of women.
Although the problem is worldwide there are some findings you may find surprising. In the U.S. there is a significant difference in mortality rates for new mothers based on race.
African-American women are 2.6 times for likely to die than white women, and four times higher than Asian/Pacific Islander or women of Hispanic descent.
Also, women living in South Asia and Sub-Saharan regions of the world are at very high risk of dying giving birth.
Other Factors in Maternal Deaths
Other factors affect if a mother is going to die in childbirth.
Age. Women aged forty or older up to 31.9% more than younger women.
Weight. Women who are underweight are 2.8% higher at risk of dying in childbirth. Also, women who are obese are 2.5% more likely to die giving birth.
In the United States, a mother who is over-weight dramatically increases her chances of dying.
A study reported by Health News states that the causes of the above statistics are that being over or underweight increases the likelihood of complications before, during and after giving birth.
Being overweight can result in obese children and babies getting their shoulders stuck while passing through the birth canal.
This problem results in these children needing surgically removed. Any surgical procedure is dangerous, but women who are overweight have a much higher risk of dying.
The study went on to state that mothers who are underweight women are not any better off.
On the Mom Junction website, an article states that underweight women face serious complications. Some of these complications include stillbirth, premature delivery, interventional surgery or hemorrhaging all which brings with it an increased risk of death.
Uninsured Women. Because uninsured women lack health insurance to pay for their care, they are more likely to die in childbirth three or four more than women who do. This tragedy is an unnecessary statistic.
Multiple Births. Women who have given birth to five or more children are at a much higher risk of dying in childbirth.
The Complications That Kill
The truth is that women anywhere in the world need not die in childbirth leaving around a million children without their mothers. Too many die. Below find a list of some of the reasons these tragedies occur.
Hemorrhage. Hemorrhaging during childbirth is the number one killer of new mothers. After birth, the uterus continues to contract to help stop the bleeding. If the woman does not expel the placenta or the uterus doesn’t contract properly, a hemorrhage can happen.
If this occurs, and the new mother loses more than 500 milliliters of blood mom can cause her blood pressure to drop too far and cause death.
Eclampsia. Eclampsia is a where the woman experiences extremely high blood pressure and protein in her urine. The condition can be caught during a physical examination during pregnancy, but this is difficult for many women to obtain. If the mother’s blood pressure goes too high seizures, coma and death can follow.
No or poor quality prenatal care. It is essential that new mothers get good quality health care before, during and after giving birth. However, too often women are denied the care they need to live well or at all.
How Can We as a Society Change the Needless Deaths of Mothers in Childbirth?
Some of the services women need are access to family planning services and skilled care during pregnancy. If women around the world could receive these services, many fewer women would die. They would obtain the information about nutrition and be closely watched by doctors and nurses who could watch out for signs of trouble.
The Unfolding Tragedy of Maternal Deaths in the United States
In this article, we have seen how the maternal death rates in the U.S. has increased more than in almost any other country. In fact, the World Bank’s database shows just how dangerous the United States maternal death rate has become.
The graph published on the World Bank’s website shows clearly that while mortality rates of new mothers have gone down drastically since 1990, the U.S. has not.
This is a statistic that is astonishing for a country that touts itself as having such advanced technical abilities in medicine.
Finding the reasons for the increasing deaths of new mothers in the U.S. is extremely difficult because there are no unified methods for reporting these occurrences.
However, it appears the reason for these preventable deaths is a mixed-bag of factors.
What few facts are well-documented is that a woman’s chances of dying are highly biased according to class, race, and where you live.
There are some very American reasons for the staggering statistics. Women who live I the United States have seen a growing trend towards being obese and having diabetes. Both conditions increase the chances of a mother dying before, during and after delivery.
According to the website State of Obesity, one in four (23.4%) of women are overweight before becoming pregnant, and a whopping 6% will develop gestational diabetes.
In the U.S. women are more likely than any of their European counterparts to need an emergency C-section or emergency hysterectomy.
These invasive procedures are usually the result of infection inside the uterus or damage done giving birth to larger than average babies.
The United States Has an Impaired Ability to Track Deaths
Because the U.S. has many laws that prohibit information about patients being shared, many deaths during childbirth go uncounted in the official counts.
This lack of communication between the hospital and government officials means that investigating deaths and trying to find ways to prevent them is hindered.
Ways to Prevent This Tragic Loss of Life
There are ways to help mothers successfully give birth to their children.
India has seen a drop in their maternal mortality rates by a whopping 77%. The are four main reasons India have been so successful, and they are listed for you below.
According to the report by the World Health Organization of South-East Asia, these four reasons are as follows.
First, India has made a huge push to increase the access to quality maternal care to its women. They have doubled the number of services and tripled the proportion of hospital deliveries in public facilities.
Second, India has subsidized pregnant women’s health care. This means no-expense delivery including caesarian sections. Now 75% of births in rural areas are supervised by doctors and trained nurses, and 89% of women living in the cities are as well.
Third, India is pushing for eliminating the social determinants of women. Women in India are being better trained to read and write with 68% now being literate.
Fourth, women are entering marriage at an older age being wed before the age of 18 years. Since women under this age die at a higher rate than their older counterparts, this has helped enormously.
Clearly, the implementations of the age of the mothers increasing when giving birth are not needed in the United States, they can be in other places globally.
However, in conservative run countries like the United States, India has much to teach about offering free, adequate and universal maternal care to moms.
Pulling it All Together
It should be clear from what you have read that maternal deaths do not have to happen. While it is true that some women will continue to experience unexpected difficulties, many of the causes for these unfortunate losses can be mitigated.
While India’s extreme drop in deaths among pregnant women is impressive, they are still very high on the list of countries with rates that are very high.
However, they are taking essential steps every year to help lower the number of dying mothers.
The United States has begun to examine why so many mothers are dying. They have started investigations using data from hospitals from around the country to see where their weaknesses lie.
A World Goal
The World Health Organization has set a goal that between 2016 and 2030 maternal mortality will drop to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
They plan to reach this goal by advocating for more affordable and effective treatments and educating people around the world.
This also means approaching cultures who have religious or cultural taboos that prevent women from receiving the care they need.
It is evident that the world needs to wake up and reexamine its treatment of expectant mothers. All people everywhere need to begin seeing women’s health as a major concern and to stop treating mothers as second-hand citizens.
Universal health care, including free access to quality before, during and after birth services are required. That means free access to prenatal care, hospital births, and after birth care for both mother and child.
It’s time for humans everywhere to realize that dying while giving birth is not the fault of the mother; it is a fault of our society.
If we as a modern civilization are to end this universal tragedy, all people everywhere need to act and act now.
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