When everyday Americans think about women dying during childbirth it is probable that their initial thoughts travel directly to Africa where it is quite well known that maternal mortality is rife. Chances are their thoughts never focus on the deaths and near deaths during childbirth that women experience right here in the United States. After all, the overwhelming consensus is that the United States has the best medical care, superior health workers and health system in the world despite some of its inherent challenges. This thinking renders maternal mortality in the US thoroughly inconceivable to many even while data reveal it should not be inconceivable at all. In fact, maternal mortality is on the rise in America having doubled over the past 25 years all while global maternal deaths are steadily declining. Globally, maternal mortality was effectively reduced by 44 percent according to the World Health Organization.
The United States, while not the overall leader in maternal mortality among all countries, it is the leader among all developed nations. The United States ranked number 33 out of 179 countries in Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index Ranking and 46th in the world due to the rate of women who die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Compared to other developed countries, the United States’ ranking is abysmal, especially with Norway, Finland, and Iceland ranking in the top three overall. Even countries like Estonia and Belarus, whose GDPs are considerably lower than ours, far outrank America.
Continue reading The Troubling Truth About Maternal Mortality in the United States
For years researchers who study maternal morbidity and mortality have been stumped as to why rates continue to rise and why women of color are adversely affected despite education, health care, and socio-economic factors.
A new report and the first of its kind released in May, New York City 2008 – 2012: Severe Maternal Morbidity, shows the myriad reasons why women of color, especially low-income, Black non-Latina, women fare the worse with severe maternal morbidity (SMM). While most studies in the past across the country focus on maternal mortality, this report focused on maternal morbidity, the causes of maternal mortality.
Continue reading NYC Report Tackles Maternal Morbidity Rates
Brought to you by Nursing@Georgetown: Nurse Midwife programs
Photo: United Nations
It may sound cliché, but a child’s future deeply rests on their ability to learn and to be educated. It starts early and it doesn’t matter where a child lives whether it’s in Kenya or the Philippines or right here in the United States.
Oftentimes we see children who live in impoverished countries who desperately need books, schools that are close to their homes, and just the simple right to an education and we are compelled to help. In the United States, too, there are also many poor children who long for books and don’t have access to them. In fact one in five American children live in poverty and do not have one book in their home. This is heartbreaking because books really hold the keys to one’s future, creativity, imagination, and ability to be a productive adult.
Continue reading How We Can Help American Children in Poverty Learn
Earlier this year I wrote about the important maternal mortality art work of Chicago-based artist and activist, Michelle Hartney and her plan to sew 1,200 hospital gowns for her performance art, MOTHER’S RIGHT — one for every woman who died in the US during childbirth in 2013.
Hartney will perform this piece on September 7th at the Daley Center in Chicago at Improving Birth’s “Liberate Labor” rally.
Today she announced on Instagram that the 1200 gowns have been completed. The photo stuck out to me not only because the gowns are finished, but because 1200 women died during childbirth in America two years ago, the highest number of any developed nation.
While there is a national push to reduce maternal mortality numbers in the US, those numbers are still moving in the wrong direction as Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, recently said in our interview in our Maternal Health Heroes series.
See more of Michelle Hartney’s work on Instagram at instagram.com/michellehartneyart.
And, follow our ongoing series about maternal health in the United States.