Posts Tagged ‘maternal mortality’

Do you live in a maternity care desert?

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Maternity care is the health care women get during pregnancy, labor and birth and in the postpartum period after giving birth. Getting quality maternity care can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. But not every woman in the U.S. gets good maternity care. One reason for this is because they live in a maternity care desert. A maternity care desert is an area where there are not enough hospitals, health care providers or health care services for pregnant and postpartum women.

A new report from March of Dimes shows where maternity care deserts exist and how they affect the health of moms and babies. Here are some of the findings:

  • More than 5 million women in the U.S. live in a maternity care desert.
  • About 1,085 counties in the U.S. have hospitals without services for pregnant women.
  • Almost 150,000 babies are born to women living in maternity care deserts.
  • Counties with maternity care deserts have a higher number of people living in poverty.

Maternity care deserts are a problem for all of us.

Having good quality and on-time health care services can help women have healthier pregnancies and babies. Through health checkups, a provider can spot health conditions and treat them before they become serious. Women who live in maternity care deserts may be at higher risk of having serious health complications and even death. Babies who are born prematurely or with special health conditions may not get the medical care they need in counties with maternity care deserts. The health of moms and babies is at risk when they live in counties with maternity care deserts.

The United States is facing a maternal health crisis.

More than 700 moms died due to pregnancy-related causes this year alone, making the United States one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to give birth. Women of color are most at risk of facing life-threatening complications. Black women are three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes. More than 50,000 women have a near-miss (nearly die) from severe complications from labor and childbirth every year.

What can you do?

You can take action now and help us fight for the health of all moms.

Stacey D. Stewart speaks to Congress about maternal death

Friday, September 28th, 2018

March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart spoke before the U.S. Congress yesterday (September 27, 2018). She urged lawmakers to pass legislation to help prevent the death of women from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The United States is facing a maternal health crisis, making our country one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to give birth.

Stewart started her testimony by showing the members of Congress a hospital receiving blanket used to wrap a baby after birth. She said, “any of us with children will never forget that first moment when the doctor placed our precious baby boy or girl in our arms, wrapped warmly in one of these blankets.” Then she explained that more than 700 times a year a mother dies, leaving a baby without a mom to hold him.  Each year in the United States, 700 families face the devastating experience of losing a mom due to a pregnancy-related death.

Stewart also talked about another alarming problem affecting even more families and moms. In the United States every year, more than 50,000 women have a near-miss (nearly die) from severe complications from labor and childbirth. The emotional and disturbing effects of these experiences distress women and families sometimes for a lifetime.

In the United States almost every measure of mom and baby health and wellbeing is getting worse:

Stewart also highlighted how racial disparities are affecting Black women in our country. “Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women— a truly shocking and appalling disparity,” she said.

We all must address this public health crisis. Help us lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Join the March of Dimes advocacy network and take action now to support legislation that can help protect all moms and babies. And learn about the signs and symptoms of health complications after birth to help you know when something’s not right. Knowing what to look for can help save your life. And sharing this information may help save others.

March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart urges Congress to take action to save moms’ lives

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Each year in the United States 700 women die from pregnancy-related causes and more than 50,000 have a near-miss (nearly-die) from severe complications from labor and childbirth. The U.S. is one of the most dangerous places in the developing world to give birth. This is simply unacceptable.

March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart speaks to the House of Representatives about the maternal and child health crisis happening in our country. Stewart testifies about the urgent need for legislation that can help save moms’ lives. Watch now!

Heart conditions and pregnancy

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

It’s not surprising to hear that being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent pregnancy complications. But if you have a heart condition like heart disease or a health problem like high blood pressure (which can lead to heart problems), you might worry about how it could affect your pregnancy. Here are a few things to know:

  • High blood pressure can cause preeclampsia and premature birth during pregnancy. But managing your blood pressure can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  • During pregnancy, your heart has much more work to do than before you got pregnant. It has to beat faster and pump more blood. If you have heart disease, then this extra stress on your heart may be a concern.
  • Most women with heart disease have safe pregnancies. But symptoms of heart disease can increase during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Some medicines carry a risk for birth defects. These include ACE inhibitors and blood thinners. These are a type of medicine that may be used to treat heart and blood pressure conditions. If you take these medicines, ask your health care provider about their safety and about other medicines that may be safer for you and your baby. But don’t stop taking any medicine without your provider’s OK.

Planning your treatment before pregnancy

Planning your pregnancy can help you make informed decisions about what’s best for you and your baby. Heart problems are one of the leading causes of pregnancy related-death. Getting early treatment for conditions that can cause complications during and after pregnancy may help save your life.

If you have a heart condition, talk to your health care team (for example, your cardiologist and obstetrician) before you get pregnant. They can help you understand what risks (if any) you may have during pregnancy. You also can talk to them about any concerns you have, like changing to a safer medicine. You may want to meet with a genetic counselor to review the risks of passing congenital heart problems to your baby. This risk varies depending on the cause of the heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your provider about a treatment plan to help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. By managing your health before pregnancy, you and your provider can make sure you’re ready for pregnancy.

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about having a healthy pregnancy and reducing your risk for complications.

What you need to know about placenta previa

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.

How do you know if you have placenta previa?

The most common symptom of placenta previa is painless bleeding from the vagina during the second half of pregnancy. If you have spotting or bleeding during pregnancy, call your health care provider right away. If the bleeding is severe, go to the hospital.

Not all women with placenta previa have vaginal bleeding. A routine ultrasound can identify placenta previa when there’s no bleeding. In some cases a transvaginal ultrasound is needed to find the placenta’s location. Don’t be too worried if this happens. Placenta previa found in the second trimester fixes itself in most cases.

Is there treatment?

Yes. Treatment depends on how far along you are in pregnancy, the seriousness of your bleeding and the health of you and your baby. The goal of treatment is to keep you pregnant as long as possible. But a c-section may be necessary if you have dangerously heavy bleeding or if you or your baby are having problems.

If you have a lot of bleeding, you may be treated with blood transfusions. You also may get medicines called corticosteroids. These medicines help speed up the development of your baby’s lungs and other organs. Your provider may want you to stay in the hospital until you give birth. If the bleeding stops, you may be able to go home.

If you have severe bleeding at about 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, your provider may recommend an immediate c-section. If you have bleeding at 36 to 37 weeks, your provider may suggest an amniocentesis. This test checks the amniotic fluid around your baby to see if her lungs are fully developed. If they are, your provider may recommend a c-section to avoid risks of future bleeding.

How can you reduce your risk for placenta previa?

We don’t know how to prevent placenta previa. But you may be able to reduce your risk by not smoking and not using street drugs like cocaine. Another risk for placenta previa is having multiple c-sections. The more c-sections you have, the greater your risk. C-sections should only be for medical reasons. If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to let labor begin on its own.

Learn more about placenta previa at: marchofdimes.org

What you need to know about maternal death

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

We are facing a maternal health crisis in the United States. More and more women are dying from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This is especially true for women of color. Black women have maternal death rates over three times higher than women of other races. This is simply not acceptable, and we will not stand by as this trend continues. You can take action now to fight for the health of all moms.

What’s the difference between pregnancy-related death and maternal death?

You may have heard these terms in the news lately. Pregnancy-related death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or within one year after the end of pregnancy from problems related to pregnancy. Maternal death is when a woman dies during pregnancy or up to 42 days after the end of pregnancy from health problems related to pregnancy. Regardless of the term or timeframe, the death of a mom is tragic with devastating effects on families.

Who is most at risk?

About 700 women die each year in the United States from complications during or after pregnancy. Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This difference may be because of social determinants of health. These are conditions in which you are born, grow, work, live and age that affect your health throughout your life. These conditions may contribute to the increase in pregnancy-related death among black women in this country.

The risk of maternal death also increases with age. For example, women age 35 to 39 are about two times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as women age 20 to 24. The risk for women who are 40 and older is even higher.

What you can do

If you’re pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or sharing this news with someone you love, regular health care before, during and after pregnancy helps women and health care providers find health problems that can put lives at risk. Learning warning signs of complications can help with early treatment and may prevent death.

Always trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your health or the health of someone who is pregnant, pay attention to signs and symptoms of conditions that can cause problems during pregnancy. A health care provider or hospital is your first line of defense.

Take action today

You can help us lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies. Take action now to support legislation that can protect the women you love and prevent maternal death. We need thousands of voices to persuade policymakers to pass laws and regulations that promote the health of women, babies and families. You also can make a donation to level the playing field so that all moms and babies have the same opportunity to be healthy. And learn about the signs and symptoms of health complications after birth that can save lives.

Mental health matters for moms

Friday, July 20th, 2018

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health, people from racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely than people who aren’t minorities to get treatment for mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.  So what’s causing this difference?

  • Social determinants of health. These are conditions in which you’re born, grow, work, live and age that can affect your community, education, income and your relationships with your partner, family and friends.
  • Less access to services. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services than other groups and are more likely to receive lower quality care.
  • Ethnic background. Because of cultural beliefs and traditions, some people may They may be afraid to talk to their health care provider or to ask for help.

Mental health awareness is especially important for all women during and after pregnancy. In the United States, about 1 in 10 women (10 percent) has signs or symptoms of depression. About 1 in 7 women (about 15 percent) have depression at some time during pregnancy and the year after pregnancy. Depression before or during pregnancy is different than postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after pregnancy.

What you need to know:

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of depression and postpartum depression.
  • If you think you have depression or PPD, tell your health care provider.
  • If you’ve had depression before, you’re more likely than other women to have depression during pregnancy.
  • If you’re pregnant and taking an antidepressant, tell your provider right away. Don’t stop taking it without talking to your provider first.

Here are some helpful resources:

Treating for two: Safe medication use in pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Depression during and after pregnancy: A resource for women, their families and friends from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Maternal and Child Health

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-NAMI (6264)

National Institute of Mental Health

Preeclampsia can also happen after you’ve given birth

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only happens during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally. When preeclampsia happens shortly after having a baby, it is called postpartum preeclampsia.

Although postpartum preeclampsia is a rare condition, it is also very dangerous. Postpartum preeclampsia most often happens within 48 hours of having a baby, but it can develop up to 6 weeks after a baby’s birth. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, postpartum preeclampsia can happen to any women, even those who didn’t have high blood pressure during their pregnancy. It can be even more dangerous than preeclampsia during pregnancy because it can be hard to identify.

After your baby is born, your attention is mostly focused on his needs. To identify the signs of postpartum preeclampsia you also need to make sure you are paying attention to your body and how you are feeling. Identifying the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia and getting help right away is extremely important. Postpartum preeclampsia needs to be treated immediately to avoid serious complications, including death.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia may include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased urination
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)

What can you do?

  • Go to your postpartum checkup, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Know how to identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum preeclampsia.
  • If you have any of the previous signs or symptoms, tell your provider right away. If you can’t talk to your provider right away, call the emergency services (911) or ask to be taken to an emergency room.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that only occurs in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Women who have preeclampsia develop high blood pressure and may also have signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working normally.

Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world. It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide. In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Most women with preeclampsia have healthy babies. But if it’s not treated, it can cause severe health problems for you and your baby.

For most women, preeclampsia happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When it happens during the postpartum period, it is usually within 48 hours of having a baby. However, it can develop up to 6 weeks after birth.

One of the best ways to detect preeclampsia is to go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Preeclampsia sometimes develops without any signs. This means you may have preeclampsia and not know it. During your prenatal care checkups your health care provider will measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein. In the case of preeclampsia, there’s usually a presence of protein in the urine. 

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Changes in vision, like blurriness, flashing lights, seeing spots or being sensitive to light
  • Headache that doesn’t go away
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting or dizziness
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or in the shoulder
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands or face
  • Trouble breathing

Many of these signs and symptoms are common discomforts of pregnancy. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your provider right away. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause serious health problems for you and your baby, even death.

If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may want you to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with low-dose aspirin is right for you. Visit marchofdimes.org for more information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Is it postpartum depression?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Welcoming a new baby into your life is an exciting moment. But for some moms, feelings of happiness after giving birth mix with intense feelings of sadness and worry that can last a long time. These feelings can make it difficult for you to take care of yourself and your baby. This is called postpartum depression (also known as PPD).

PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby. But you’re not alone. In fact, up to 1 out of every 7 women has PPD, making it the most common complication for new moms. Postpartum depression can happen any time after having a baby. Often times, it starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby.

How do you know if it’s PPD?

The exact causes of PPD are not known. We know that it can happen to any woman after giving birth, and that perhaps the changing hormones after pregnancy may lead to PPD. We also know that there are some things that may make you more likely than other women to have PPD, such as having a family health history of depression, and having had a stressful event in your life, like having a baby in the NICU. However, one of the most important things you can do is learn the signs of PPD.

You may have PPD if you have 5 or more of the following signs of PPD that last longer than 2 weeks:

Changes in your feelings:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day every day
  • Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
  • Feeling panicky or scared a lot of the time
  • Having severe mood swings

Changes in your everyday life:

  • Having little interest in things you normally like to do
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions

Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:

  • Having trouble bonding with your baby
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
  • Thinking about killing yourself

If you think you have PPD, call your health care provider right away. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911.

PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. PPD is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause PPD and you can get help to help you feel better and enjoy being a mom.

For more information and support: