Having a child a child is a miracle. However, even in our 21st century, pregnancy and childbirth come with many risks, and one of them is maternal death.Sadly, this is a problem worldwide.
Actually in the United States birth is the sixth most common death among mothers, statistics show, which means that 15 out of 100,000 women die in childbirth.
Looking back, figures seem to be better now because in the past 600 out of 100,000 mothers lost their lives bearing a child. Many times it was a medical error that led to death. Dragging the baby in pieces, breaking the mom’s pelvis, inducing high sedation, not treating infections: the list of causes goes on and on.
Even today, there are still many poor medical decisions that can lead to death. The risk is higher in poor families or mothers with more than four children. Factors can be divided into direct and indirect. In 2015, around 303,000 women died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, leaving more than 1 million children alone.
This is a scary fact. Although pregnancy and childbirth have become a lot more “medicalized”, according to experts like Amy Mullin, and births in many parts of the world involve interventions, drugs, monitoring, and many others, why do women still die in childbirth?
15 Postpartum Hemorrhage
Everyone is familiar with the risks that bearing a child comes with.One of the many problems that can occur during and after childbirth and that can lead to a fatal outcome is bleeding. And let’s be honest: bleeding that’s not properly treated by doctors. According to many reports, excessive bleeding after childbirth is a leading cause of maternal death worldwide.
Historically speaking, many women died of massive bleeding and shock. Strangely enough, the common treatment of bleeding in the past was to apply cloth with wine, warm compresses or herbal drinks. Of course, that not always helped and many mothers lost their lives.
However, a tragic accident changed history. History says that in 1817, Princess Charlotte of Wales died of a massive hemorrhage after… 50 hours in labor. That event attracted more attention to the problem of excessive bleeding and maternal death, and finally, some doctors tried to apply blood transfusion in severe cases.
Nowadays, blood transfusion and injection with oxytocin can help stop bleeding but if health professionals don’t take the right decisions in time, fatal outcomes can be expected.
14 Blood Clots
Another common cause of death among mothers is developing clots. In particular, cases of untreated clots due to a poor medical decision can lead to maternal death. The reported case of a Kansas woman who died from a blood clot in her lungs is well known, and unfortunately, it’s not the only one.
Many new mothers can suffer from clots, or venous thromboembolism, for up to 12 weeks after birth, researchers at the Weill Cornell Medical College claim. Women who have twins are at a higher risk of developing clots, and C-sections can also lead to developing a blood clot.
Blood clots after birth develop mainly in the legs, but they can travel to other parts of the body (lungs, heart, and brain).
Doctors should watch for signs and symptoms of blood clots and they should be encouraging women to walk soon after birth, especially after a C-section. Medications, mainly blood thinners, are also used in the treatment of venous thromboembolism. If doctors leave the problem untreated, a woman with a blood clot can die.
13 Infections After Birth
Blood loss is scary, but infections are also another leading cause of death. Maybe one of the most common reasons that have led to fatal outcomes for moms and their babies in the past, and that keep taking many deaths, are infections.
In the past, many women were struck down with stomach pain and fever after birth. This condition was known as childbed fever, and death was the eventual outcome. Puerperal birth was one of the biggest dangers in front of expectant women.
Finally, in the 1800s, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis made a discovery: he suggested that doctors caused death. He made the connection between puerperal fever and doctors who often performed autopsies and then delivered babies without even washing their hands. That discovery was rejected as doctors were offended by the pure accusation. Eventually, many years later, the germ theory was finally accepted.
Now, proper hygiene in the hospital can save many lives. Let’s hope that the smallest thing that doctors who deliver babies can do is to wash their hands.
12 Obstructed Labor
Another common cause of death is obstructed labor or labor dystocia. It’s a scary complication… just because poor medical decisions can cause severe damage and death.Looking back, during the 17th century, people suffered from bad nutrition, which often led to rickets.
Rickets caused pelvic deformities, which had a significant impact on women: women had labored for hours and days. Often women weren’t given anything to drink or eat during labor, and they were often exhausted. Dealing with obstructed labor involved many barbaric techniques in the past.
Small pelves, abnormal shape of the uterus or the size of the baby are some of the causes of obstructed labor. However, nowadays doctors should be able to make the right decision, which is performing a C-section in many cases, to save lives.
Preeclampsia is another serious problem that can cause death in mothers. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and that can cause some damage to the whole body. It usually starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia and doctors should monitor that.
If due to some poor medical decision, preeclampsia is left untreated, it can be life-threatening for the mom and her baby. Some of the many complications of preeclampsia may include not enough blood to the placenta, hemolysis or placental abruption.
If a mother has preeclampsia, the only cure is the early delivery of the baby. Preeclampsia may require induced labor and delivery. That can be challenging, especially if the baby is not mature enough. Injections of steroids should be given to help baby’s lungs mature. Doctors should monitor blood levels and the heart condition and take the necessary interventions.
10 Abnormal Presentation
Abnormal presentation is another cause closely related to obstructed labor that can lead to death. Usually, the baby should be positioned head-down to facilitate birth.
However, some babies have a different position, called breech presentations: frank breech (when the baby’s buttocks face down), complete breech (when the baby's buttocks or feet may enter the birth canal first), and an incomplete breech (when one or both feet lead the way). Transverse lie is another type of presentation problem (when the shoulders lead the way through the canal).
Nowadays, if doctors don’t find out about this problem during an ultrasound, this can lead to an obstructed labor, excessive bleeding and death. C-sections should be performed in a case of a prolonged birth, and vacuum extraction is also a method that might be considered.
Diagnosing presentation and position of the baby is crucial because recognizing obstructed labor can save lives. Maintaining fluid levels and giving drugs during labor is also important.
As stated above, bearing a child is difficult. There are many problems that can lead to maternal death. One of them is eclampsia. Eclampsia is a problem, which is actually related to preeclampsia. When preeclampsia isn't controlled due to a poor medical decision, for example, eclampsia can develop. This condition is characterized by high blood pressure accompanied by seizures.
Symptoms that suggest eclampsia include abdominal pain, severe headache, vision problems and change in many cognitive processes.
Treating eclampsia is challenging and involves monitoring the blood pressure and the brain activity of the mom.
Actually, doctors should deliver the baby straight after they discover this condition because if they don’t take the necessary steps, they put the mom and her baby at risk. Delivering the baby early might be complicated but can save many lives. Again, helping the baby’s lungs mature is crucial. Treating bleeding and infections should also be a concern.
8 Cardiovascular Disease
Often one complication during pregnancy leads to another. There are many untreated diseases that can cause death, especially when doctors don’t monitor, don’t care or don’t take the right decisions.
One of many problems that can be lethal is a heart disease. Actually, having preeclampsia, in other words, high blood pressure, may increase the risk of future heart and blood vessel disease.
The best thing to minimize this risk related to a cardiovascular disease is to:• maintain an ideal weight• eat a variety of food and vitamins• exercise on a regular basis, and, of course,• no smoking
Doctors should monitor the general health of the mother, not only the baby, in order to prevent birth complications and save lives. There are drugs that can be administered if a heart disease is present.
7 Placenta Previa
Placenta previa is another common cause of death.
It’s a known fact that usually the placenta is formed in the lower part of the uterus, but with time it changes its initial position and moves near the top of the uterus, attaching to the upper walls of the womb.
However, sometimes the placenta stays low, and this condition is called placenta previa.There is no clear evidence why placenta previa occurs, but if placenta previa is not diagnosed on time, the mother can suffer from excessive bleeding, which can be lethal.To prevent any risks, bed and pelvic rest are a must.
Also, having a healthy diet and performing light exercises are important. In the case of placenta previa, doctors should deliver the baby early. In many cases, a C-section is performed, and all the necessary steps to save a preemie should be taken. Doctors should be able to make the right decision to save lives.
6 Placenta Accreta
There are many problems during pregnancy and many of them are related to the placenta, which can be life-threatening for the mom and her babies. Placenta accreta is one of those problems. It’s a condition related to placenta previa.
Basically, when the placenta attaches itself to the uterus or other organs, we can talk about placenta accreta. To clarify, placenta accreta is a serious condition: when the placenta attaches too deep in the uterine wall and the muscles.
Doctors should take the right decisions and many times, surgical interventions can be performed in order to help the mother. Blood transfusions are also a must because this condition increases the risk of hemorrhaging.
Proper monitoring during pregnancy and performing a C-section can save lives, so let’s hope that doctors don’t make any poor decisions when it comes to birth.
5 Ectopic Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be challenging. Sadly, it comes not only with joy but fear and real danger. It’s not only the process of childbirth that can lead to maternal death, but the pregnancy itself.
There are many complications during pregnancy that are dangerous to the mother. We all have heard of a condition known as ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the womb, a fallopian tube, for example. Bleeding might be a sign of it.
This condition can be very risky and many times, unfortunately, the ectopic pregnancy should be terminated.
An ectopic pregnancy can be very serious, so any poor medical decisions can lead to fatal outcomes. Careful monitoring, proper medication, and laparoscopy (a type of a surgical intervention) are the three main treatments for an ectopic pregnancy.
4 Improper Endometritis Treatment
Another poor medical decision that can lead to maternal death is the improper treatment of endometritis. Endometritis is an inflammatory condition of the uterus, and it’s usually caused by an infection. The uterus, as we know, is the major reproductive organ in women. It’s where the fetus develops during pregnancy, finding a comfortable and exciting home till she or he meet the beauty of the outside world.
Many women suffer from different infections during pregnancy. Endometritis is usually not life-threatening, but it’s important to be treated to prevent more serious complications: antibiotics should be taken to cure endometritis.
Some women fear medications during pregnancy but when left untreated, infections can lead to complications with the reproductive organs and can cause other health problems. If infections get worse, that can lead to a septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition.Proper monitoring, hygiene, and medication can save lives.
3 Unsafe Abortion
There’s a topic taboo that many people feel uncomfortable talking about: abortions.Women should have the right to decide what they want to do with their own bodies, and abortion is one of them. AIDS, drug abuse, rape and violence can lead to abortion.
Unsafe abortions, according to statistics, are the fifth most common cause of death, and it’s terrifying to know that almost every eight minutes an expectant woman dies from some complications related to an unsafe abortion. Sadly enough, young moms-to-be are more likely to have unsafe abortions because many times they want to hide their pregnancy.
In general, around 287,000 women die due to complications in pregnancy and/or childbirth, and data shows that 99% of these cases happen in developing countries.Lack of contraception, family rules, religion, stigma, poor medical decisions: so many things that can lead to a fatal outcome due to unsafe abortions.
2 Depression And Suicide
Pregnancy is a wonderful period in every woman’s life. However, all the social and physiological changes and all the expectations that a family faces, can lead to some serious emotional and cognitive changes in an expectant women.
Women can suffer from depression and anxiety more than men, especially moms-to-be. Putting on weight, dealing with hormones, coping with unwanted advice, having family difficulties, not having a proper intimate life, there are so many factors that can trigger depressive thoughts.
Depression during and after birth is a serious condition, and many times women hide it because people label them as ‘crazy.’ Negative thoughts can become automatized and can lead to real suicide attempts.
Every year, an average of 800,000 people die from suicide globally, data shows. Surprisingly, in China the suicide rate in rural areas is higher among women than men.Doctors should treat depression in order to save lives.
1 Prenatal And Postnatal Care
All the physical and emotional complications that come with pregnancy and birth can lead to different fatal outcomes. However, many complications can be dealt with if proper medical decisions are made and proper care is present. Having support from a skilled birth attendant is crucial. In the past, when births were at home, there was little prenatal care.
In addition, lack of access to medical care, the travel distance to the hospital and poor infrastructure could increase maternal deaths. From dealing with life-threatening conditions, through managing simple infections, to dealing with emotional changes - doctors take crucial part during pregnancy. Because, unfortunately, poor medical decisions can lead to death.
Society should be aware of that problem because the future of the planet is in our children. And each child needs a living mom.