Childbirth has always been one of the most amazing, powerful, and dangerous events in the human experience. The world’s mothers have benefited from advancements in medical care, however, and in all but one industrialized country, the rates of maternal death are consistently decreasing.
The problem for us, however, is that the one industrialized country where childbirth mortality rates are actually increasing is the United States.
Conditions of Childbirth
The rising rates of mortality in America, now up to two deaths per day, mean that mothers giving birth today are actually in greater danger than their own mothers were. But why would that be the case?
A recent article by CBS News notes a number of factors that have been identified. Some issues are related to the choices of mothers themselves. Dr. Neel Shah, a professor of obstetrics at Harvard Medical School as well as a practicing physician, warns in the article that an increased reliance on C-sections has played a role. He claims that more than half of all C-sections carried out in the United States may be unnecessary.
“If you have a C-section in 2018, you have a 90 percent chance of having a C-section the second time.... But the second time it's a more complicated surgery.” Dr. Shah warns that with increased complexity, there is an increased risk that mothers may bleed to death.
A Lack of Concern
Other factors explored in the article are even more concerning. Even victims who survive dangerous pregnancy and childbirth complications, of whom there are roughly 60,000 per year, report that it was difficult to get hospitals to take their concerns seriously. The fears of pregnant women are simply not being addressed as promptly as they should be. Beyond that, race is a factor, with women of color at a risk three to four times higher than their white counterparts even when they have access to the same resources.
These resources may themselves be limited, however, with hospitals around the nation closing expensive maternity wards, many obstetricians refusing to see patients due to a host of criteria, and postnatal care being regularly pushed off to six weeks despite most complications arising within the first couple of weeks.
We as a nation must strive to provide better care to pregnant women and new mothers. We need to hold hospitals and obstetricians accountable for preventable labor and delivery injuries, and remind them of their obligation to the health of current and future generations. Contact us today to learn how we can help.