While maternity care in the United States has come a long way since the Pilgrims stepped foot on Plymouth Rock, most Americans think we are a lot better off than we truly are. When I first started writing Momotics, it was called Birth, Babies, and Everything in Between, but mostly focused on childbirth. I felt the need to go back to my original roots this weekend after reading an amazing post on our maternal mortality rates at RHRealityCheck.com.
The piece focused on statistics, reports, and Amnesty International’s Deadly Delivery publication from earlier in the year. I am always fascinated to see real numbers regarding something I have become so passionate about on my own since having children and becoming heavily involved in the childbirth community.
On my site I wrote:
In the United States we are spending the most per birth in the world. In one year, the United States spends a reported $86 Billion dollars in pregnancy related hospitalizations… That is a TON of money. Yet the maternal mortality rate in our country is higher than 49… Yes that is right… 49 other countries around the world, which include South Korea, and Kuwait. True story!
According to the Deadly Delivery report a woman in the United States is five times more likely to die during childbirth than in Greece, four times more likely to die during childbirth in Germany, and three times more likely to die during childbirth in Spain. All countries with birth rates that can be considered comparable to the United States.
While we have a higher population, and birth rate annually, these factors are certainly taken into consideration when calculating these statistics.
Every 90 seconds… a woman dies from a pregnancy related cause. 2-3 of those women are in the United States.
Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate here has DOUBLED. We have been taking steps backwards, clearly not forwards.
During this time we have also seen a rise in managed births, and the way childbirth is handled. More c-sections, more inductions, more complications in pregnancy, and a slight rise in multiples. Not enough to warrant the cesarean rise by any means, which some use as the main culprit.
During 2004, and 2005, a simple period of two years 68,433 women died during childbirth, or from a complication of childbirth. That is simply way too many mothers gone.
It is not to be upsetting to pregnant women, or to scare new mothers. It is about helping to educate women on the real risks, and possibilities of childbirth today. Not all mothers having a baby will be at increased risk for maternal mortality in our country — certain social groups are most at risk according to these reports:
Mothers of immigrant descent, limited English, limited prenatal care availability, women in the African American community, and of course mothers living in inner cities.
photo: flickr.com/archibald jude