Why are so many new and expectant mothers dying in the US?

Evidence of the US’s medical (and social) priorities can be seen everywhere, including in the disproportionate amount of care a woman receives while pregnant compared to after she has delivered.

The majority of women reported holding back from asking questions of their providers because they felt rushed (30%) or they wanted a different kind of care than the one chosen by their doctors (22%), with 23% women saying they held back due to fear of being considered “difficult.”

Once the baby is born, new mothers in the US generally have to wait six weeks for their first post-delivery obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) appointment, so even if their doctor is trained to recognize symptoms of depression (which isn’t common) those first symptoms of depression that can follow delivery will be missed entirely. This contributes to a vast underdiagnosis of postpartum depression (only 50% cases are recognized in the US) and undertreatment of the condition (15% receive treatment). Suicide accounts for 20% of postpartum deaths.

Black mothers . . . are three times more likely to die or suffer serious illness from pregnancy-related causes than white women, with at least 40 deaths per 100,000 live births on average, compared to 14 for white mothers. Native-American mothers are nearly twice as likely to die as their white peers.


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