Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mothers are Dying in Childbirth in the US

While researching for an NPR interview, I found an inspiring project online called The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. The woman who is in charge of this project is collecting the names and stories of women who died due to complications in childbirth (or late-term abortion) to bring attention to the horrible maternal mortality rate here in the US. The United States spends more on medicine than nearly anyone else, but we have the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world. Where is all of that money going if it's not to save infants and mothers lives?

There are many reasons why this is happening. Here I list only a few:

1) The overuse of c-sections. Even in a scheduled routine c-section, the mother is twice as likely to die than if she had a vaginal birth.

2) Poor health care for poor people. Women living in poverty are far more likely to die from complications in childbirth than rich women.

3) Poorly staffed medical facilities and poor communication among staff. Many times when a woman dies in childbirth it is because the signs that something was wrong were not noticed or not reported until it was too late. I know medical personnel are only human and they take their jobs very seriously, but they need the support and the tools to do their job better.

For more information: Amnesty International Report


  1. Fatal medical mishaps need to be investigated and preventability studies done and lessons learned and corrections implemented. But everybody's too afraid of lawsuits.

    One thing that I love about air crash investigations is that they don't just stop at "pilot error," blame the pilots, and move on. they look at WHY the error happened. Was training adequate? How did the equipment or standard procedures contribute to the problem? How can we help pilots to do their jobs better and more safely?

    We need to do the same thing with medical care.

    1. I agree completely. Don't mothers deserve the same consideration as air travelers?

    2. You need to separate the facts and not obscure the death of a woman from abortion by a doctor hired to kill her baby who then also kills her (for profit by the way) and the circumstances surrounding maternal death due to natural causes, such as toxemia etc. They do not belong in the same catagory unless you are "prochoice" and you then can create the false narrative that childbearing in America is dangerous. Lets talk TRUTH.

    3. I put it in parentheses precisely for that reason. I'm an intern right now for Feminist for Life. The interview I was researching for was an interview about late-term abortion. That's how I ran into the project since she does have a couple women killed in late-term abortions listed on her site. Only two of the women she has listed on her site were killed in late-term abortions, but it was through my looking for them that I found her site. I am pro-life.

      The statistics I share from Amnesty International, however, do not include late-term abortion. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear. Childbearing in America is more dangerous than it is in other industrialized countries.

      You are right that they do not belong in the same category, I'm sorry I wasn't clear.

  2. Keep women safe from abortuaries that maim and kill. victims like tonya reeves in chicage, jennifer morbelli hundreds of others-go to "BlackmunWall" or "Cemetary of Choice" if you care about maternal mortality-these were totally preventable deaths. Killing isn't healthcare-from a nurse

    1. I agree. See my comment above. I put it in parentheses precisely because of this. I am an intern at Feminists for Life and I found her project because she has two women who were killed in late-term abortions listed on her site.

      I still find her project inspiring because more attention needs to be given to how dangerous childbearing is in the US. We spend so much on healthcare, there is no excuse.

  3. I feel like the line "Where is all of that money going if it's not to save infants and mothers lives?" is saying that these problems are a result of poor healthcare. Now I'll agree that our healthcare system does have it's problems, I feel that a lot of these statistics are misleading. I'm sorry some of my facts are more about infant mortality than maternal mortality, but the two are somewhat linked.

    1) The increased number of C-sections in the United States is a problem, but I find that it's not the fault of our medical community. C-sections being chosen by women who want to have births on a certain timetable, (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/07/reducing-infant-mortality-in-the-united-states.html) or are medically necessary due to problems such as Gestational diabetes which is more a problem with our health as a society.

    is also a good article, which mentions "Premature infants in the United States are more likely to survive than those elsewhere" Which points out that our healthcare does a better job of keeping those premature babies alive, but also that we have a higher level of premature babies born. Reasons include infertility clinics increase a woman's chances for twins which increases her chances of complications. I have also heard those infertility treatments are often used by older women, which also drastically increases a persons odds of complications.

    2) Poor healthcare for poor people? Everything I see points to the fact that poor people do have worse statistics, but that being more due to them not going to see their doctors and not that the doctor is giving them inferior care.

    3) Poorly staffed medical community? I haven't found anything Corroborating this statement. Though one of the articles I read mentioned that "America has more neonatologists and neonatal intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada, or the United Kingdom."

    This is more for infant mortality but a commenter wrote, "France, for instance doesn't count children who die in the first 24 hours as live births. About half of children who die in the US do so in the first 24 hours. Thus using France's metric for "live births", the US would come in right above Norway.

    The list goes on. Most of these countries don't actually report the correct numbers for this very reason. Fix the problem and the US looks a lot better off. The US counts every live birth as a live birth, no matter how premature or sickly the baby is or how fast it dies. Other countries don't, and it results in their numbers looking better than they truly are."

    Overall I would agree that medicine can improve, but I feel like medical professionals are being blamed for things outside of their control.

    1. First of all, I'm sorry I gave the impression that I'm blaming the professionals. I didn't mean that at all. But to address the specific points you mention.

      1) Contrary to media reports, the number of women who have elective 1st c-sections here in the US is actually very small. One study I read interviewed hundreds of women about their birth experiences and only 2 of them said that their c-section was completely elective.

      2) I didn't mean to imply that doctors give poor people inferior care. People in poverty don't see the doctor and don't get good prenatal care because they can't afford it.

      3) Going back to the mothers: There is a major OBGYN shortage. Sure, we have more neonatologists, but it is the OBGYNs that take care of the mother before birth and take care of the mother and child in labor. This is largely due to malpractice insurance because OBGYN's tend to be the most sued.

      This leads directly to your last comment: "I feel like medical professionals are being blamed for things outside of their control." There is nothing sure about birth or death. I think it's wrong that OBGYN's are sued like they are.

      You also mention a problem in reporting infant deaths in other countries. In our country there is a problem in reporting maternal deaths. The CDC estimates that maternal deaths are under-reported, that the actual numbers could be as much as 3 times higher than what we believe (which what we believe is 700 deaths annually).

      Did I address everything?

    2. Some people I failed to mention in my earlier reply are the midwives. They have been coming in to fill the gap where the OBGYN's used to be. Also, some women are turning to midwives out of preference. I know some midwives and they rock!

  4. I worked on that inforgraphic! Sorry, I just get all giddy when I see my former work being used. ;) I used to be a campaigner for AIUSA on maternal health... If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

    1. Thank you very much! A question that came up on my Facebook page is, "Why didn't they mention how many deaths there are annually on the graphic?"

      Why wasn't the annual number of maternal deaths explicitly mentioned? The number of near deaths are. My guess is that the number of deaths isn't entirely reliable because there is no regulations for reporting maternal deaths.


What do you think? I want to know.