You probably saw the headlines, and if you’re a mom pregnant after loss in the US, (or any pregnant mom really!) they probably frightened you. USA Today did an investigative reporting piece on why the maternal mortality rate in the US is so high.

The disturbing news is that approximately 700 women in the United States die every year from a post-partum related cause.

That’s a rate that’s nearly double any other developed country, like Canada, Germany or the UK. What’s more, these are not because expensive interventions are being missed, but instead, these women are dying because they lack routine, inexpensive care. Postpartum bleeding, pre-eclampsia and infection are just some of the disturbing consequences.

Do you know what to do to reduce the risks? Do you know the signs of a potentially life-altering complication after birth?

Here are the things you need to look out for a full YEAR after you’ve given birth:

  • Pain in your chest
  • Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
  • Bleeding soaking through one pad an hour, or clots the size of an egg
  • Incision that isn’t healing (either an episiotomy or c-section incision)
  • Red or swollen leg that’s warm to the touch
  • Temperature of 100.4 F or higher
  • Headache that does not improve, even after taking medication or headache that blurs your vision

(Thanks to ZDoggMD’s Incident Report (Maternal Mortality Edition) for this chart.)

Learn about the AIM Program. 40% of hospitals in the US have signed on to this program to reduce maternal mortality. Find out if your hospital is one of them.

Black Mamas Matter

.Sadly, it should come as no surprise that women of colour experience pregnancy loss and maternal mortality at higher rates than white women. I’ve written about this before as it relates to indigenous women. Black Mamas Matter is a women’s health collective seeking to improve care for black women by changing the culture and advancing research. Watch their incredible documentary Death by Delivery.

No one in the United States should receive substandard medical care. The wealthiest country in the world can afford high quality care for everyone. Mothers (and babies) are dying.

Image of the Tomb of Lady Frederica Stanhope, St Botolphs, Chevening, Kent. Died in childbirth 1823, aged 23. Credit: user Glen. Used under Creative Commons License

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