For many women, childbirth is difficult but not life-threatening. They have normal pregnancies and uneventful births (by medical standards). Then there are the women who suffer serious complications or die. In a time when people are living longer than ever before, women should not be suffering or dying.

Every year, approximately 700 women die, and around another 50,000 suffer serious injuries from complications related to childbirth. In fact, of all developed nations, the United States is the only country whose maternal death rate appears to be rising.

What is the problem?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the deaths of three out of every five mothers who die were preventable. Mothers aren’t just dying during childbirth, either. Some women die prior to giving birth while others die up to one year postpartum from pregnancy-related complications and/or medical conditions exacerbated by giving birth, such as a weakened heart muscle.

The simple answer to the problem is that these women just aren’t receiving quality medical care. Research indicates that the primary contributing factors to maternal deaths are as follows:

  • Lack of patient access to quality health care
  • Failure of caregivers to recognize warning signs
  • Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses by doctors

An investigation by USA Today indicates that care providers and hospitals are not adhering to childbirth safety practices followed across the country. When it comes to deaths during delivery, many occurred due to amniotic embolisms and hemorrhage. The two most often seen causes of death, regardless of whether the death happened before, during or after childbirth, were stroke and heart disease.

What the medical industry says

It only makes sense that the medical industry should come under scrutiny as mothers are dying and suffering serious complications during childbirth. Over the years, doctors have claimed that maternal deaths are rising because the women giving birth are too unhealthy, too fat or too old to make childbirth safe for them. It appears these excuses are no longer holding as much water as they used to for those in obstetrics.

When researchers began taking a serious look at maternal deaths, they realized that many of the women who are dying may have only needed better medical care. The question now becomes what changes to make in the field of obstetrics in order to drastically reduce or even eliminate the number of women who die or suffer serious complications during childbirth. It could take some time to properly answer that question. In the meantime, women may continue to needlessly suffer.