Midwives discuss rise in maternal mortality

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Having a baby in the United States is becoming more deadly, according to the latest study of pregnancy-related deaths from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
According to the report, pregnancy-related deaths decreased worldwide, but the US stands out because the rate went up. Between the year 2000 and 2014, the maternal mortality rate went up by more than 25-percent.
“I think it’s something midwives have been concerned about for a long time. It’s something I read about frequently,” said Certified Midwife Mary Walsh, who is the owner of Family Birth and Wellness in Springfield.
She says even healthy, low-risk pregnant women can run into complications when they give birth.
“Healthy, normal women who went in, didn’t have any crazy risk factors, and still died giving birth,” she explained, “And so often, you can see a lot of things that are done wrong.”
Walsh works with Rachel Williston, an experienced certified midwife from Kansas City. She says she’s delivered more than 500 babies in her career. She says quality care is important for expectant mothers.
“It’s that continuity of care, it’s that knowing your provider, and that provider knows you, and knows where your risk factors lie,” said Williston.
However, she says she’s worked with many women who simply can’t afford the medical attention a mother needs during a pregnancy. Williston says the maternal mortality rates in the US won’t improve until there are serious changes to the health care system.
“I think that in America, we have not done well with our poor socioeconomic status clients, and our African-American clients. They are the ones who are dying at higher rates than anybody else,” she said.
Tracey Arwood is a certified nurse midwife who works at a hospital in Texas County. She says she’s noticed that more and more moms are shying away from natural births.
“In the past, we’ve had more natural doctors. Now we seem to have more medical doctors, more medically minded doctors. And our C-section rate has just followed along, and we have some issues with severe hemorrhaging and infections with those C-sections,” she explained.
All the midwives we spoke with say no matter what birth plan a mother chooses, the most important thing a pregnant woman can do is educate herself.
“There’s not a one-size fits all with care for anybody. So doing your research, looking at statistics, looking at numbers and figuring out what’s important for you,” Walsh said.
Despite the increase in pregnancy- related deaths, they are still rare in the United States, especially in comparison with less-developed nations.