Every year in the United States, 700 women die from childbirth. Let that number digest for a second. We are one of the worlds most wealthy and developed nations, yet the amount of women who die from childbirth and childbirth related complications has doubled in the past two years. Taking things one step further, the CDC reported that three out of every five of these deaths could have and should have been prevents.
A new report, just published by the CDC shares some extremely eye-opening data about what it's actually like to give birth in the United States in 2019.
The report looks at these childbirth deaths in three different phases: during pregnancy, at delivery, and during the postpartum period (which is up to a year after giving birth). During each phase, about one third of the deaths occurred, with the most common being heart attack and stroke. In addition, it's sad to note that the rate of deaths among white women were a third less that that of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
So what is the CDC doing to make a positive change? They are recommending that they need to break down this crisis into three different categories which are a lack of knowledge of patients and providers about warning signs, missed or delayed diagnoses, and access to high-quality care and appropriate care for any complications.
However, it's so much more than providers just being on top of things. If all women don't have access to care, then they won't even be seeing a doctor to begin with, which can delay or miss important diagnosis. And of course, regularly getting to the doctor before, during and after a pregnancy is crucial. It really all boils down to access.
And the care can't stop just after a woman has a baby, it has to continue through the postpartum stage as well. Those six week only follow-up appointments need to be so much more than just one visit, as there are many complications that can be easily overlooked.
It's a lot to think about, but changes really need to be made. Alison Steube, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at UNC Health Care, spoke with HuffPost and her recommendations have to do with big policy changes. She said, “We are the only high-income country in the world without paid maternity leave…Moms covered by pregnancy Medicaid are kicked off 60 days after having a baby. These are decisions we have made as a society.”
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