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Over the past year, NPR and ProPublica have been investigating why American mothers die in childbirth at a far higher rate than in any other developed country. In the course of our reporting, another disturbing statistic emerged: for every American woman who dies, 70 nearly die. That adds up to more than 50,000 women each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three women share their stories of close-calls during childbirth.
“Meeting the Challenges of Measuring and Preventing Maternal Mortality in the United States”
Women in the United States are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes than other women in high-income countries. More evidence is needed to understand the actual causes of death better, but research suggests that half of these deaths may be preventable. Racial disparities persist. The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is 3 to 4 times higher than those of white women.
Nearly half of all U.S. counties lack a practicing OB-GYN, and the shortage is expected to grow, with projections showing as many as 8,800 fewer OB-GYNs practicing than will be needed in 2020. Maternity workforce shortages and maldistribution are of particular concern for the Medicaid program, which covers about half of all births in the U.S. Meanwhile, American women are dying from pregnancy-related complications at a higher rate than in any other developed country.
Discrimination, harassment, and lack of professional support and respect are key barriers hindering midwives’ ability to provide lifesaving, quality care to women and newborns, according to findings in the first and largest global survey of midwifery personnel led by the World Health Organization, the International Confederation of Midwives, and White Ribbon Alliance, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded HP+ project.
The Midwives Work DVD premiered at the International Confederation of Midwives Congress in Durban South Africa in June 2011, in front of 3000 midwives and others interested in maternity care from over 100 countries, has attracted huge interest. It highlights the importance of the role of the midwife in reducing maternal and infant mortality as well as the issues and challenges they face.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives is excited to share with you a short video they have made to educate the public about midwives and the care they provide.