In most affluent countries, maternal mortality rates decline year after year. In Britain for instance, mortality rates among mothers are so low that a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than a woman is during pregnancy.
Is the same true in America? Short answer: no.
Each year, around 700 to 900 American women die from childbirth. According to the Center for Disease Control, American women are three times more likely to die as a result of maternal complications than Canadian women. Furthermore, instances of maternal death have steadily risen between the years of 2000 to 2014. Perhaps most startling is the fact that 60 percent of such deaths are preventable.
In many cases, America’s maternal mortality rates reflect consequences of racial divides and widening socioeconomic gaps. Although all women, regardless of race or family income, are susceptible to unforeseen child birth complications, maternal mortality is more prevalent among women who are impoverished and women who are of African-American descent.
Lack of health insurance and access to quality healthcare are just a few of the many causes that experts have attributed to these statistics. In addition to the maelstrom of inefficacy, inaccessibility, and navigational confusion many American attribute to the healthcare system in its current state, there are several other factors that contribute to these statistics as well.
C-sections have become far more common in recent years, and these procedures can lead to more life-threatening complications among mothers. Furthermore, contemporary women are giving birth later in life than women in previous generations. The circumstances of sudden, unplanned pregnancies, which account for 50 percent of births, also do not allow much room for considerations such as chronic health issues.
It might be easy to think thank maternal mortality is a problem that only affects developing nations, but these statistics are a sobering reminder that there’s plenty of work to be done to protect the health of expectant mothers in America as well.