Take action to prevent maternal mortality

Welcome or not, well-intended people shower expectant moms with advice. Whether about proper nutrition, exercise, prenatal vitamins, weight gain or parenting classes, advice is generally not in short supply. But how many moms-to-be get information about the risks associated with labor and delivery? Women and their families must educate themselves about warning signs of potential maternal mortality.

Having a baby is supposed to be an exciting and life-changing experience. Sadly, American women are more likely to die during childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than women in any other developed country. In other developed countries, the maternal death rate has been steadily decreasing since 2000. In the U.S., it has gone up.

Efforts to lower maternal mortality rates

In response, the U.S. passed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (HR 1318). The new law helps states improve how they track and investigate cases of maternal mortality. The bill authorizes $12 million a year in new funds to tackle this healthcare crisis.

Michigan ranks 27th out of the 50 states for its rate of maternal mortality. Additionally, deaths of African American women are three times higher than those of white women. The state is developing strategies to decrease preventable deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, three in five pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable. If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, it’s essential to be aware of medical conditions that may contribute to maternal mortality. Common causes include:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots
  • Sepsis
  • Infection
  • Stroke

Does your birth plan address a range of scenarios?

Many expectant parents write birth plans that communicate their goals for before, during and after delivery. Parents often include their “ideal” labor and delivery scenario. However, you can’t control all aspects of labor and delivery. It’s important for the plan to be flexible, in case something doesn’t go as planned.

While your birth plan will address the needs of your little one, don’t forget to discuss your needs as well. Prepare yourself for the best possible outcome. A comprehensive birth plan includes steps the mother and her healthcare providers can take to address potential health risks.

Continue educating yourself about how to have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Advocate for yourself – speak up if something feels wrong, or if you experience any signs or symptoms of distress. After all, you know your body better than anyone else.

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