In most of the world, the number of women dying in childbirth is decreasing, but the United States is one of eight countries in the world  where the maternal mortality rate is going up, not down, according to the newest figures. In fact, the US is rock bottom of the developing nations of the world in maternal mortality #60 out of 180 nations included in the statistics. And that is unacceptable.
According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization , the United States has made an alarming jump in the maternal mortality rates. From an average of 12 deaths per 100,000 in the period 1988-1992 up to 28 per 100,000 in the period from 2008-2012. That is a 136% increase over what it was 20 years ago. The rate has more than doubled in the past ten years. The maternal mortality figures are going the wrong way. Here is how the numbers look over that 20 year period:
- 12 deaths per 100,000 1988-1992
- 11 deaths per 100,000 1992-1997
- 13 deaths per 100,000 1998-2002
- 17 deaths per 100,000 2003-2007
- 28 deaths per 100,000 2008-2012
The most dramatic jump in the maternal mortality rate was in the last five year period, from 17 to 28. WHO also records that there was a jump in the actual number of deaths from 880 in 2010 to 1,200 in 2013. Countries like El Salvador and Belize also have increased their maternal mortality rates, and they lose even more mothers than the US.
In 2005, there were 27 countries where it was safer to give birth than the USA; now there are 59.
The late Marsden Wagner , former director of Women’s and Children’s Services for the World Health Organization for 15 years, was a vocal advocate for midwives to attend birthing women. He was dismayed by the increasing infant and maternal mortality rates :
“…it may be that the increase in the use of birth technologies is not only not saving more women’s lives but it is also killing more women. This possibility has a reasonable scientific explanation: cesarean section and epidural anesthesia have both been used more and more in this country and we know that both cesarean section and epidural block can result in death.”
Renowned French Obstetrician Michel Odent , M.D., puts it this way:
“Experiences have clearly shown that an approach which ‘de-medicalizes’ birth, restores dignity and humanity to the process of childbirth, and returns control to the mother is also the safest approach.”
The maternal mortality rates are abysmal. This did not happen on the watch or under the care of midwives. According to Marsden Wagner, it happened under a broken medical system of power and control. Suzanne Arms has said that the maternal care system in this country is a “multi-billion dollar, self-regulated industry.”
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