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Childbirth: The Risks & What You Can Do To Help


The United States has made some amazing advances in the medical field, but one of the areas we really fall  short is childbirth. According to the World Health Organization, about 830 women around the world die each day from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes. The good news is that worldwide, the maternal death rate has been improving; the bad news is that in the United States maternal death rates have increased. Fourteen moms out of every 100,000 will pass away from complications during pregnancy or after birth, and the majority of these deaths are completely preventable. Some statistics show that a pregnant woman today is 50% more likely to pass away during pregnancy or childbirth than her mother was. Hearing all this might leave you wondering: who's at risk, why are they at risk, and what are we going to do about it?    

Who’s At Risk?

The most at-risk groups are minorities, particularly African Americans, and adolescents. Factors that contribute to risky childbirth include poverty, distance from medical care facilities, and lack of access to information or services.  

Why Are They At Risk?

It’s believed that African American women are most at risk due to the stresses related to financial burdens of proper medical care and perceived racism when trying to access care. Access to healthy nutrition and safe housing are also essential for healthy pregnancies, areas in which at-risk women often struggle.

What Are We Going To Do About It?  

There are a number of areas we need to focus on in order to improve the rate of maternal deaths, including:

  • Increasing education about pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum
  • Providing greater access to quality prenatal and postnatal care 
  • Supporting construction of safe housing for low-income families
  • Improving access to nutritious food
  • Controlling and diminishing C-section rates 

One way some communities are addressing all of these areas and more is with midwives. The World Health Organization states that 87% of the requirements necessary for a healthy pregnancy can be met with a midwife “care package.” Childbirth-focused midwives can provide care efficiently while also providing much needed education. Skilled midwives empower their patients for positive outcomes.  

Why Is Prenatal Care So Important?  

It’s extremely important to see a doctor for regular check ups during your pregnancy. The number-one root cause of pregnancy-related deaths is heart-related problems, because pregnancy can not only cause new heart issues but also magnify or activate existing issues that have been there all along. With regular prenatal visits, your care provider can monitor your heart and notice any developing issues.

Remember that you can fight and advocate for you and your baby's health. Get educated on what happens in pregnancy and after the baby arrives (this is called postpartum). If you can’t afford prenatal care for you and your baby, look for local low-cost options in your area. Many cities have local midwife or pregnancy facilities that you can go to for care, even if you don’t qualify for government assistance. 

We’ve got a lot of work to do in order to make sure that future moms and babies are safe. If you're an expecting mom, now is a great time to make your voice be heard loud and strong. Speak up to make sure your needs are being met. You're doing it not only for you and your baby, but for your daughter, granddaughter, and females everywhere. 

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