In the U.S., pregnant women and women who have just given birth are at higher risk for injury and death than women in any developed country. Our country’s annual mortality rate for pregnant women is 700 to 900, while an additional 65,000 pregnant women develop near-fatal illnesses and injuries.
What does this mean? While the rate of maternal deaths has fallen in all other wealthy nations, it has increased in the U.S. Clearly, American hospitals and doctors are not doing enough to protect women before, during and after childbirth.
The most common dangers facing new mothers
Many things can go wrong for mothers and babies during childbirth. Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth are at risk for serious illness and injury, including:
- Preeclampsia (very high blood pressure caused by the pregnancy)
- Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
- Blood clots
- Severe hemorrhaging
Unfortunately, all of these medical conditions can be fatal for the mother, leaving families devastated.
In the U.S., the primary focus in recent years has been on the health of the fetus or baby, not the mother. We are finding out now that shifting this focus has been detrimental to mothers’ health.
There are, of course, myriad factors that contribute to the health of pregnant women and their risk for complications. Age, quality of prenatal care and preexisting illnesses can complicate any pregnancy. That said, it is a mistake to ignore symptoms such as high blood pressure in pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, make sure you advocate for your health as well as the health of your baby. The future of your family may depend on it. And remember, doctors and hospitals can be held accountable for medical negligence that causes serious illnesses, injuries and wrongful death.