It’s supposed to be the happiest time for new moms.
Pregnancy and childbirth are over, and their much-anticipated “bundle of joy”
has finally arrived. But amid all the excitement that a new baby brings, most
new moms or their partners don’t consider the possibility that deadly pregnancy-related
complications can occur long after they leave the hospital or birthing center.
They should. Too many women are dying postpartum — indeed,
up to one year after delivery — from conditions that could have been prevented
with proper medical intervention and better access to care, according a new
report by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, 700 women die each year from
pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. For 2011 through 2015, the agency
reports that about one-third of those deaths — approximately 233 — happened one
week to one year postpartum. Also noted in the report is that one-third of the
women studied died during pregnancy, while another third died during delivery
or in the week thereafter.
In fact, maternal mortality is rising in the U.S., even as
it declines elsewhere, according to an investigative report by National
Public Radio. The report notes that per 100,000 live births in the U.S.
there are 26.4 maternal deaths. By way of comparison, here are the rates of
maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in other countries:
When Is a
Pregnancy-Related Death Most Likely to Occur?
Of the women studied, the CDC found:
What Are the Leading
Causes of Pregnancy-Related Deaths?
The CDC identified the leading causes of pregnancy-related
deaths as follows:
Pregnancy-Related Deaths Are Preventable?
The CDC reports that 60 percent of pregnancy-related
deaths — that’s about three out of every five —could have
How Can a Woman
Reduce Her Risk of Dying During Her First Year after Childbirth?
In 2018, the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) revised its
recommendations on postpartum care given the urgent need to reduce severe
maternal morbidity and mortality.
The ACOG now recommends that postpartum care be an ongoing
process, essentially a “fourth trimester,” rather than a single encounter and
that all women have contact with their ob-gyns or other obstetric care
providers within the first three weeks postpartum. Previously, the ACOG
recommended that a comprehensive postpartum visit take place within the first
six weeks after birth.
The medical follow-up, which should be a transition to
ongoing well-woman care, should include a full assessment of the following:
Up to 40 percent of women who have given birth do not attend
a postpartum visit with a healthcare provider, according to the ACOG.
The ACOG also recommends special care prior to pregnancy,
during pregnancy and postpartum for women with known heart
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