Despite spending more on maternity care than any other developed nation — and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital-based health care — the United States ranks an astonishing 50th in the world in maternal mortality. The statistic is a shocking one, and one which proves that the maternal health care crisis in our country can no longer be ignored.
Deadly Delivery: Are We Really in Crisis?
According to Amnesty International's report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA (updated in 2011), the answer is yes.
"Women in the US face a greater risk of maternal death than nearly all European countries, as well as Canada and several countries in the Middle East. Despite the 34% decrease in global maternal mortality between 1990 and 2008 ... the US was among just 23 countries to see an increase in maternal mortality."
When it is statistically safer to give birth in a country like Bosnia or Kuwait than it is here at home, you can't help but wonder where we've gone wrong — and how we can fix what is clearly broken.
The Rally For Better Birth
On September 3, 2012 (which, no coincidence, happens to be Labor Day), women will gather from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in over 100 major cities across the country to make the case for the better, safer birthing practices that are so desperately needed to save lives.
The gathering, known as The National Rally for Change, is not considered a protest, but rather a "public outreach event" designed to "encourage and insist that all maternal health care providers practice evidence based care."
"The way we birth, the experiences we have, and how we felt as a woman during our birth matters," says Hollie Silberhorn, organizer of The National Rally for Change-St. Louis. "In health care, evidence matters. You can't do a heart surgery based on old-school tradition where outcomes are poor. Yet in maternal care, we see tradition trumping evidence frequently."
The Importance of Evidence-Based Maternity Care
Evidence-based maternity care might seem like a given, but unfortunately, it isn't. While research consistently demonstrates the dangers of turning unnecessary interventions into routine labor and delivery procedures, rates of inductions and c-sections that are not medically indicated continue to rise — and mothers are paying the price.
"Women are dying and we must do something about it," Silberhorn continues. "[T]he way we birth matters."
It is sometimes difficult to talk about the risks associated with procedures like C-sections without fueling the flames of the so-called "mommy wars," but the conversation remains a necessary one, because evidence-based maternity care saves lives. No matter how we ultimately give birth, we as women all share a common goal — to live through the experience.
And that's a goal that each and every mother should be willing to rally for.
Is there a National Rally for Change in your community? Do you plan to attend?