[StatePoint] It surprises a lot of people to learn that the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world. Women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than women in Libya and Kazakhstan, and the United States is the only industrialized nation to experience an increase in maternal mortality over the last two decades.
Pregnancy is especially dangerous for women of color. Black women in the United States lose their lives in childbirth at three to four times the rate of white women.
But there is good news. Experts say we can reduce deaths among moms and babies by improving health policies and changing the way care is delivered.
MomsRising, an online and on-the-ground organization working to improve the health and economic security of moms and families, is urging federal and state lawmakers to invest in research into the reasons pregnancy and childbirth are so dangerous in the United States.
The group is pressing to improve prenatal care, better train doctors and nurses, diversify the perinatal health care workforce, make it easier for working moms to breastfeed, improve mental health care for pregnant women and new moms, ensure that pregnant women on Medicaid can keep their health insurance for a year after giving birth, and guarantee paid leave. Right now, one in four women go back to work just two weeks after giving birth because they can’t afford to take any additional unpaid time off to recover from childbirth and care for their infant.
“The early weeks of a baby’s life are critical for families. Insufficient paid leave for moms and dads is harmful for the health and well-being of both babies and parents,” says Tina Sherman, MomsRising’s senior campaign director for maternal justice. “Families need that time to bond, moms need it to heal from birth and establish breastfeeding routines, and it’s crucial for infant development.”
Learn more at www.momsrising.org.
“Making pregnancy and childbirth safer is especially important as we recover from the pandemic, which has caused tremendous strain for many of us,” Sherman adds. “The United States is the richest country in the world, and it’s past time we make pregnancy and childbearing as safe as possible for everyone. When we do, moms and kids will be healthier, communities stronger, and businesses and our economy more successful.”