As shocking it may sound, the U.S. is the worst place to pregnant in the developed nation.
The world’s superpower, largely called the Land of Opportunities, might have failed to provide adequate maternal conditions to its own female population. If you are expecting a new addition in your family or are planning in the same direction, here is something you should know- the United States accounts for the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. As shocking as it may sound, this is the truth.
While the situation is prevalent in almost every state, the maternal mortality rate in the Southern districts is a sorry state of affairs. In the states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas, one in every five women of conceivable age is living under a high risk of postpartum haemorrhage, preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, and even death.
Apart from the geography, racial disparity also have stark figures to reflect. While the danger looms on both Black and White women, the former is 1.6 times more likely of struggling with such unfavourable conditions.
Black women are also at a higher risk of dying during childbirth, 2.5 times more than white women.
Despite holding an economic status that is a benchmark for other nations on the planet, the U.S. has failed miserably when it comes to maternal health care. If you compare women care conditions in the U.S. with that in New Zealand, an American woman is 10 times more likely to die while giving birth to a child.
The question is, why is the maternal state in the U.S. in such disparaged state? Who is to be held responsible? What is the political regime of the nation doing? And most importantly, how can families ensure good health and safety of mother and child during pregnancy? Let’s find out.
What is leading to the deplorable maternal healthcare in the U.S.?
America’s maternal mortality failure is the sum of multiple factors that have together led to the condition. These factors range from geographical location, pollution, violent crimes, access to transportation and good quality housing, financial and educational opportunities, mental health and drug abuse.
These factors combined together also explain the racial disparity when it comes to maternal health in the country. Black women are more likely to suffer the consequences of the above-mentioned factors due to lesser opportunities and resources.
Another explanation is the strikingly low numbers in terms of availability of OB-GYNs and midwives in the U.S. For every 1,000 births in the U.S., the country has only 12 providers at the service. Shockingly, among the top 11 countries namely U.S., U.K., Canada, Sweden, Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, only U.S. is the country that does not provide mandatory visit of a midwife or nurse within a week of delivery. The trend not only leads to neglect of the newborn’s health, but it also leads to lower breastfeeding and mental health awareness among new mothers. It further results in increased maternal healthcare costs.
When it comes to maternity leaves, the U.S. takes a backseat again. Out of all the 11 developed nations evaluated in this article, the U.S. is the only nation that does not guarantee paid maternity leaves to women after childbirth. All the 11 nations make it legally mandatory for employers to provide a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leaves except America.
What are lawmakers doing to improve the matter?
The Biden administration has depicted some signs of vigilance towards the direction. Multiple programs for the improvement of maternal health are being funded by the administration which includes Medicaid coverage. Lawmakers are expanding the timeline of Medicaid coverage to 12 months from the time of childbirth.
Another significant move towards improving the maternal healthcare state among Black women is the passing of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act. The Act is aimed at investing in resources for better maternal health, growth and diversifying the perinatal workforce, improving maternal mental health, handling drug abuse, and much more.
However, the moves are highly broad in terms of application and in order to tackle the sensitivity of the matter, the country needs more local actions. Given that the geographical location and demographics are one of the major reasons behind failing maternal healthcare in the U.S., issues like low quality of lifestyle and substance abuse require a personalized legal approach depending upon location.
On a broader scale, dealing with racial discrimination in the country is another non-negotiable need of the hour. Black women have been falling prey to inadequate resources and opportunities for decades and it’s high time.
Tips and tricks for safe pregnancy in America
While the state should be held accountable for providing favourable conditions for safe childbirth and mother healthcare, here are some expert measures that individuals can take to ensure safety.
To begin with, acknowledge the failure and address it before your healthcare provider before delivery. This becomes more important if you are a Black pregnant woman. Open up about your fear before your doctor so that any mishappening can be prevented.
Keep safety precautions handy. It is always advised to be accompanied by a person who can be a support during pregnancy for appointments. One can also hire a birth doula. It is highly helpful in building a community sense while visiting your healthcare provider.
It is also significant to regular get your overall health checked. Hypertension is one of the biggest hazards among pregnant women, especially Black women. While drawing a comparison, it was found that 57 per cent of Black women suffer from high blood pressure as compared to 37 per cent of White women. This check-up should continue post-delivery too.
While taking care of your physical health and social conditions, do not forget your mental health. Stay in touch with a therapist and make sure to indulge in low-impact workouts and yoga.
If you are a single mother and does not live with someone who can guide you through your first pregnancy, get in touch with a specialist or reach out to a trustworthy friend. It is never advised to experiment during the sensitive phase of pregnancy. If you don’t know something, seek professional advice instead of hit and trial.