I read an incredibly disturbing article today.
For those of you who've visited my blog or professional websites, you know I am a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. And in my classes, I almost always aim to keep things upbeat, encouraging and confidence-inspiring. And I think I can speak for many women who are apart of the EmpowHer community that this entity has largely the same goal. You can empower people using a positive vibe. Or you can go for the scare tactic. And I almost never use out-right scare tactics.
But this article, that I want to share with you, is just plain scary. But knowing about the information contained within can also be empowering, because it is an excellent reminder that WE DO HAVE CHOICES.
In the Spring 2008 issue of The Journal of Perinatal Education (vol. 17, no. 2 pg. 9) well-known midwife Ina May Gaskin, CPM, MA writes about the current maternal mortality rates in the United States. And the report is not glowing.
Despite being a country that spends more money per pregnant woman than any other place in the world, it lags behind 40 other countries in maternal death rates.
The most recent information available from the World Health Organization regarding the U.S. maternal death rate is from 2005. And those statistics showed that 15.1 women will die during the time surrounding childbirth out of 100,000 women. And that's the statistic for the overall population. The statistic for African American women is staggering: 36.5 deaths per 100,000.
Despite our country's apparent effort, since 1999, to increase reporting of patient deaths related to medical mistakes made in the hospital, the statistics I list above have only climbed. The WHO statistics for U.S. pregnancy/labor related deaths in 1982 was 7.5 deaths/100,000.
If you are still reading this entry, you are probably wanting to know what can be done about this.
Obviously, the problem is not an easy one to fix, or it would have been addressed long ago. But like so many things addressed on this community, patient education and self advocacy are key.
Here are some BASIC considerations to make:
1. Choose a midwife, or a doctor with a midwife-like philosophy of care (statistically, women who birth with midwives in attendance have a much higher safety rating, a much lower c-section likelihood, and a much better over-all experience with their prenatal, labor and postnatal care. Check out ANY health care provider thoroughly when it comes to providing maternity care. Look into their credentials, their statistics, and their in-depth level of care.
2. Take a thorough childbirth preparation class so you understand all the pros and cons of medical interventions and other options related to pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Empower yourself with information.
3. Hire a doula (a professionally trained labor assistant) who can help you safeguard your path toward a satisfying, safe birth.
4. Remember that you are just as much a part of the decision making team as your health care provider(s). Make decisions with awareness, intuition, and thorough consideration.
The good news is that there ARE some fantastic maternity care providers out there, but as a health care consuming public, we need to do our due diligence in finding them. Our life just may depend on it.
For more information about pregnancy, childbirth classes and other related resources, feel free to visit my website at: http://www.pregnancytoparenthood.org
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