labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Maternal Deaths Rising

Today on my internet provider’s homepage there was a news headline that said something like: “US maternal deaths on the rise”. The headline was only up for several hours this morning. It was likely removed to make room for more important news like Lindsey Lohan’s latest drunken caper, or Britney Spear’s latest shave job.

I read the AP article and found that the most of the experts quoted didn't think this stat was correct. According to the WHO, UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund, the United States is only the 28th best in the world when it comes to moms dying. Denmark, Finland, Canada, Austria, Belgium, and Japan do better than us, to name just a few. Mind you, none of this was mentioned in the article. What was mentioned was that we have the technology to save women now, and so the rise in maternal deaths is surprising. Oh, really?

Does anyone notice the increase correlates with the rise in our c-section rate? With about 1 in 3 women giving birth by surgery, it seems only natural to see this increase in maternal death. Surgery is surgery, even when there is a birth involved, and it comes with risks. One of those risks is death. Now before someone jumps all over me because I mentioned death as a risk with c-sections, I will say that most c-sections (and surgeries in general) are done in a controlled environment with skilled care takers. But death can happen. It does.

There will be others that are not surprised at all. I’m one of them. And then there are some who are debunking this rise in maternal deaths (I believe it is now 13 in 100,000 births, up from 11) because we are just reporting these deaths differently. This may be true, I don’t know, but even if it is how many more deaths are we actually having? How long will it take us to see how many maternal deaths are occurring to rethink how we care for women?


Real said...

I read that article, too. Most of the people interviewed didn't think it was that big of a deal. And I guess the numbers are low if you compare it on a global scale. But pretty high compared to the industrialized world.

People just think the US is so great and certainly the medical community doesn't want to admit that its own practices are a problem and most women don't care to educate themselves and/or don't want to believe that letting nature take its course is better than fiddling with it all along the way.

Joyce said...

And don't you just love the women who plan a C-Section when there is really no reason for it? What are these woman thinking?

Anonymous said...

The other issue you don't address is the overall health of many women getting pregnant. We now have the technology to get most everybody pregnant regardless of their age or health. How many patients have you had that get pregnant when they have been told not to because of other health issues like lupus, diabetes, kidney failure. I think we all have taken care of these patients that make you shake your head "what were they thinking". The pregnancy may cost them their life or intensify existing problems that inturn shortens their life.

Labor Nurse said...

joyce, who the hell knows.

Anonymous, you bring up another good point that has been raised in other articles or information I have read. But I have never seen a doctor tell a woman to never get pregnant regardless of her pre-existing illness(es). I am sure some do; especially in the days when treatment for chronic illness wasn't so good. I do think this may contribute to the increase in maternal deaths, but not necessarily any more than better reporting of stats or rising c-section rates.

Jaime said...

I read an article in Newsweek about this.

I'm also amazed at how common scheduled inductions have become. A person has to wonder if all the intervention isn't a cause for the rise in labor and delivery complications.