While ob/gyns are certainly aware of the unacceptably high numbers of maternal mortality in the US, the general public is now becoming acquainted with the issue, thanks in part to coverage by mainstream media outlets, including magazines and newspapers, radio, and television. Your patients will be reading and listening to these stories with interest and, possibly, with concern. And they may turn to you for answers and reassurance.
To help practitioners stay on these stories, Contemporary OB/GYN will post links to these reports on our Media page, and we will include details about the source of the reports and the dates of publication.
Be sure to check back often for the very latest links and information.
ABC NEWS 5/16/2018
Despite advances in technology and medical care, the United States is missing the mark on maternal health during three critical time periods: Pregnancy, during labor and the first year after delivery.
Dr. Neel Shah said there are a multitude of underlying factors for why the maternal mortality rate in the US is rising. For starters, he said the quality of care varies tremendously from hospital to hospital and there aren’t enough qualified practitioners in rural areas to care for pregnant women. Also, Shah said in the critical weeks following birth, when complications can occur, current guidelines call for too few follow-up visits.
"Over the past year, NPR and ProPublica have been investigating why American mothers die in childbirth at a far higher rate than in any other developed country.
In the course of our reporting, another disturbing statistic emerged: for every American woman who dies, 70 nearly die. That adds up to more than 50,000 women each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three women share their stories of close-calls during childbirth."
Caldwell University 5/7/2018
Students at Caldwell University had the opportunity to witness a simulated event aimed at preventing maternal death. In introducing the event to the students, Dr. Brenda Petersen, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control showing preventable patient death is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. She said the United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and 60 percent of these deaths are preventable.
Huffington Post 5/2/2018
Estimates suggest that one in seven new moms struggle with postpartum depression while postpartum anxiety is thought to affect up to 17 percent of women. As policymakers try to tackle the United States’ stubbornly high rates of pregnancy-related death, they still tend to overlook pregnancy-related suicide.
The New York Times 4/11/2018
"The reasons for the black-white divide in both infant and maternal mortality have been debated by researchers and doctors for more than two decades. But recently there has been growing acceptance of what has largely been, for the medical establishment, a shocking idea: For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions — including hypertension and pre-eclampsia — that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death. And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care — including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms — that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages."
Dr. Irving, a former epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was researching how childhood experiences affect health later on. Then three weeks after giving birth, she collapsed and died from complications of high blood pressure.
Screenwriter, Rachel Stuhler, describes her experiences following postpartum hemorrhage and the aftereffects resulting from the incident.
TED Radio Hour Podcast, NPR 3/16/2018
In her recent TED Talk, activist and doula Miriam Zoila Pérez, explains that racism and discrimination can have a detrimental effect on health - both in the mother and her fetus. But a healthcare model from a Florida midwife that provides accessible and respectful prenatal care primarily to African American and Latina mothers has found a way to help deliver healthy and full-term babies through a supportive and holistic approach (video).
NPR and ProPublica have reported American Mothers die in childbirth at a higher rate than mothers in all other developed countries. And for every woman who dies, 70 women reach the brink of death.
Maternal mortality rates in the US have reached an all-time high. But California has actually seen its maternal mortality rates decline – the state’s death rate is almost one-third lower than the rest of the country. Here’s what the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative is doing to help prevent these deaths (video).
"In the US, less than 10% of deliveries are led by midwives. The rate has languished in the single digits since a century ago, when expectant mothers largely stopped using midwives to embrace doctor-led childbirth, believing that was safer. Ironically, that shift has resulted in myriad problems stemming from the over-medicalization of childbirth."
"'What was different about me? Why didn't I die? What were the reasons for that?' asked Timoria McQueen Saba. 'I felt like I have a duty to tell this story, to represent my race in a way that not many people can, because I lived through it.'"
Bangor Daily News 11/13/2017
In less than a decade, at least three small Maine community hospitals have closed their obstetric departments, citing financial pressures and insufficient demand.
The Washington Post 11/8/2017
"Life in rural America can be tough, with challenges starting right from birth. Increasingly, rural women lack access to maternity services, jeopardizing their health and that of their newborns at a time when U.S. maternal mortality is rising."
Determining exactly why so many American mothers are dying of, or suffering through, pregnancy is a gargantuan public-health puzzle.
Black mothers are between three and four times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related complciation than white mothers. Black women are also twice as likely to suffer a problem so severe that they almost die, referred to as a near miss. No single explanation captures why.
The Economist 8/5/2017
Due to inconsistent definitions of maternal death on US death records, maternal mortality instances may actually be more in line with the rates of other developed nations.
Survivors share advice on choosing a provider, preparing for an emergency, getting a provider to listen, what to do after the delivery, and grappling with the emotional fallout.
In recent months, mothers who nearly died in the hours and days after giving birth have repeatedly told ProPublica and NPR that their doctors and nurses were often slow to recognize the warning signs that their bodies weren't healing properly.
NPR and ProPublica collaborated on a six-month long investigation into maternal mortality in the US, finding that under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother's health and well-being.
While maternal mortality continues to rise at an alarming rate in the US, black mothers are disporortionately affected creating both a reproductive and social issue.