Poor access to maternal care not just a developing world issue

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Every woman should have access to safe and appropriate antenatal care. While there may be obvious barriers to this in resource-poor countries, the high maternal mortality rate in the US, one of the richest nations in the world, continues to grow. It more than doubled between 1990 and 2013; in 2017, the maternal mortality rate in Texas was the highest not only in the US, but in the entire developed world.


The US has the dubious distinction of being one of the only countries in the world where maternal deaths and injuries have been increasing in recent years, wrote Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner in Time magazine last year.


She bravely outlined her own experience of haemorrhaging after childbirth.


“Room spinning, tired, I didn’t realize I was haemorrhaging. My daughter had just been born in a rapid birth spurred by Pitocin because my labor wasn’t progressing. I went from being six centimeters dilated to giving birth in seven minutes flat. Too fast.”


Kristin recalls that she had opted for a natural childbirth, but instead “it felt something like a tsunami hit the room”. Her first concern was for her newborn child.


“To say I was worried about her is an understatement. Hearing my tiny daughter take that first breath and then start crying was one of the most relaxing noises I’ve ever heard. Such sweet relief. She was fine. But I wasn’t.”


If not treated quickly, postpartum hemorrhaging can be a “sneaky, silent killer”, she explains.


“There’s already a lot of blood involved in giving birth, and pain, too, so the person in trouble— in this case me — can be clueless that there’s an emergency until it’s too late. I lived. But many — too many — women don’t. Haemorrhaging, like I did when I had my daughter, is one of the most common ways women die in childbirth, and the situation isn’t getting better.”


Lack of access to health care services during pregnancy can determine if a woman and her child live or die during or after childbirth, says Kristin.


What was your experience of healthcare during your pregnancy and labour in your country? Do you think you received the best care possible? Share your story with us


  • Maternal Health