How YOU Can Stop New Moms From Dying

Sasha Brown-Worsham

A recent New York Daily News article laments the maternal mortality rate in New York, which is around 15 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2001 and 2005.

According to the article:

"While the actual numbers of maternal deaths may seem small, the problem is significant for a variety of reasons. A maternal death is most always the death of a young woman, leaving behind a motherless child and distraught family."

These are the kinds of stories that terrified me when I was pregnant (more the first time than the second). These are the ones your friends feel compelled to report days before your birth date. They always start with, "Well, I know this won't happen to you, but ..."

It is scary. There can be no doubt about that and it does make birth seem dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than it is.

The article goes on to say that one of the leading causes of this high rate is the obesity epidemic and also the c-section rate, which, according to the Daily News:

" ... has been rising steadily; between 1996 to 2007, it went up 53 percent. In New York State, the rate of cesarean sections is 33.7 percent compared to the national average of 32 percent, and New York City hospitals have c-section rates that vary between 16 percent and 48 percent -- well above the 15 percent recommended by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

My takeaway from all of this is the following:

  • Get healthy BEFORE you get pregnant. Lose the weight, start an exercise routine, work with a doctor to get yourself at your ideal BMI so you enter your pregnancy healthy.
  • Make a birth plan. Know about medical intervention and how to avoid it.
  • Advocate for yourself or make sure you have someone who will.

We can all work to make our pregnancies and deliveries as healthy as possible. Obviously, some situations are unpredictable and unavoidable. We confront those as best we can. But there are also some pretty simple ways we can advocate for ourselves and make sure we are as healthy as we can be for delivery and early motherhood.


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