New Report Shows Maternal Death Rates Lower, But More Work Is Needed

mortality rate infographic.jpgLast week, Lamaze International responded to the release of a new report from the United Nations Population Division, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank Group, that shows a lower rate of worldwide maternal mortality (the rate at which mothers die from a cause related to pregnancy or childbirth). Since 1990, the maternal mortality rate declined by 44 percent. While the news is encouraging, the following remains true about the United States mortality rate:

  • The US maternal mortality rate is 14 deaths for every 100,000 live births
  • The US maternal mortality rate is higher in 2015 than in 1990 
  • The US maternal mortality rate is twice as high as in Canada
  • The United States was the only one of 13 countries to have worse rates since 1990
  • The US cesarean rate is more than twice the recommended World Health Organization cesarean rate

The US statistics for maternity care are alarming, but there are things you can do to educate yourself and find the best care, including:

  • Take a quality childbirth class to learn your options for childbirth and how to have a safe and healthy birth
  • Ask about your care provider's (OB or midwife) c-section rate (the recommended rate is 10-15% for a low risk pregnancy)
  • Know your care provider's reputation for using interventions and why -- ask directly or find out from local doulas and childbirth educators
  • Avoid an elective (choosing for convenience) c-section and induction
  • Hire a doula
  • Speak up and ask questions frequently
  • Use your BRAIN when making decisions

You can read a summary and the complete report on the World Health Organization website. 

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