I became a mother at 5:43 am on a Tuesday.
Around 5:50 am, the nurses rushed in. My doctor, with a concerned look on her face, declared that she would need to take me to the OR.
My own mother (an ER nurse of 20+ years, excited to witness the birth of her first grandchild) hovered over me, hands to her lips, afraid of what she might witness next.
My husband, cradled our 10-minute old baby to his bare chest after I urged him on the importance of skin-to-skin contact (if it wasn’t my skin, his skin would have to do.) He pleaded with the doctor to do whatever she could in the delivery room and not separate us.
I was bleeding and they didn’t know why.
After an hour and a half of poking and prodding and medication dripping into my veins, the bleeding slowed and stopped. A burst blood vessel from a difficult labor.
A terrifying moment for everyone in the room. A scary memory that still lingers.
My heart hurts every time I think of the moms who experience the same moment, the same fear, without the same options for life-saving care.
In parts of the developing world, expecting moms still live with maternal mortality rates that match pre-industrial America. Even in this age of incredible medical advances, many women across the world simply cannot access appropriate care during pregnancy and labor and suffer as a result.
And while the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate has plummeted since the early part of the last century — dropping from 900 (deaths/100000 live births) to 14 — we should not pat ourselves on the back for such an “achievement”. A maternal mortality rate of 14 is actually rather depressing. We rank 60th. 60th! Kazakhstan has us beat. Even more infuriating is the huge racial disparity within the United States.
But perhaps the most frustrating component of maternal loss is that most of the deaths related to childbirth are preventable.
“Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.” — World Health Organization
In 1990, the United Nations included maternal health as one of their Millennium Goals to address global poverty. While the world has made great strides to cut maternal mortality rates in half, we are still a long way from achieving the 2030 goal of a global rate of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. In a 2016 Lancet study evaluating the Millenium Goal, the authors note that if every country continues to decrease their maternal mortality rate at the current pace, 3.9 million women will die in the next 15 years.
We need to move faster.
How can you help?
Let’s yell it from the rooftops! Losing mothers to pregnancy and childbirth is not acceptable.
Our friends at Every Mother Counts recently launched a campaign to spread awareness and build momentum towards solving this global crisis. In honor of Mother’s Day, they introduced a beautiful new symbol to capture the fragility and importance of mother’s lives — the orange rose.
“I see the orange rose symbol and this campaign as a new beginning to the end of preventable deaths for mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. The orange rose is a reminder that the possibility of lasting change is within our reach.” —
Christy Turlington, founder, Every Mother Counts.
To honor my daughters, my journey to motherhood, and the journey that so many women across the world will experience in their lifetime, I have made a donation to EMC in my mother’s name for Mother’s Day as has the rest of the Bloomlife family.