Would it surprise you to hear that the US is the most dangerous place for a woman to give birth in the developed world? In the US, a woman is three times more likely to die than in Canada as a result of complications from childbirth, and six times more likely to die than in Scandinavia. It is estimated that we lose between 700 and 900 women each year, and nearly lose 65,000 women in the US alone1.
USA TODAY reported that 93% of women who bled to death during childbirth could have been saved2. As one of the most advanced countries in the world, we should do better at preventing these deaths. Each one is a tragedy, both for our nation and more importantly for the families of these women lost.
Who, Why and How
A recent Newsweek article points out the fact that unlike most Western nations, the US does not conduct a national review of maternal deaths, but has left that responsibility to the individual states. With only half of the states attempting to do so, we are left with shoddy and incomplete data on maternal deaths3.
Our community leaders are struggling with how to solve this problem. We don’t want our community leaders to do things just to show they care. Instead, we need them to understand why these women are dying in our communities so they can more effectively prioritize their limited time and resources in doing the right things needed to make the world safe for our mothers.
Besides uncovering who is dying from child birth complications and how they are dying, we need to learn why they are dying in order to solve this problem. Maternal health experts from many states are volunteering their time to sift through thousands of death certificates of women dying within one year of their pregnancy. A recent maternal mortality review committee report highlighted that there were 3-4 causes, on average, contributing to each of the maternal deaths analyzed. Beyond analyzing the contributing factors to these deaths, we can also learn a great deal from women who have experienced a near miss.
No More Mothers Lost
We at The Mother’s Monument Project hope to inspire communities to action in solving the problems that are most prevalent locally. We call this the “No More Mothers Lost” initiative, and are kicking it off in the US by publicly recognizing individuals or organizations that are taking positive action towards maternal mortality in their communities. In May 2019 we will hold an awards ceremony, recognizing those who are going above and beyond to make their communities safer places for mothers to give birth.
Currently we are working in New Jersey and Texas, two states with the highest maternal mortality rates in our nation. We have partnered with two universities to analyze the data from both maternal deaths and near misses. Interviews with women, healthcare professionals and families are being collected and referred for analysis. Where actionable data is found, we are finding local champions and healthcare organizations willing to address and tackle these issues using their own community relevant care models. The New Jersey and Texas pilot programs are selected specifically to show a reduction in one or more key risks identified in each respective state.
Be Part of the Solution
We are looking for people who are willing to help make the world safer for mothers yet to be. In time, the nation will rise up to the challenge. In the meantime, let’s make it happen at home, one community at a time. Thousands of women need our help. Please donate to our “No More Mothers Lost” initiative here and help us change the future for mothers throughout the US. If you would like to partner with us, or if you know of someone who is raising awareness about maternal mortality or reducing risk for mothers in their community, please contact us here.
Alison Young, “Deadly Deliveries” USA TODAY, 27 July 2018 (accessed 1 December 2018). ↩