Sunday, April 27, 2008


Read this startling article from Crunchy Domestic Godess. Here's an excerpt:

The maternal death rate in the United States is the highest it’s been in decades - 13 deaths* per 100,000 live births and, even more startling, for black women 34.7 deaths per 100,000, in 2004. Gaskin asserts it also may be seriously underreported. According to the Center for Disease Control in 1998, “there is so much misclassification in the US system of maternal death reporting that the actual number could be as much as three times greater than the number officially published each year.”Perhaps by raising awareness and demanding more information, we can turn the tide in this country.
Another great article worth reading on Refuse To Be A Womb Pod: Top 5 Most Underreported Birth Stories of 2007

Statistics are an interesting thing. On a blog I've just started reading, there's a debate about the safety of hospital births in the US. Many respond with how the US has one of the highest maternal and neo-natal death rates in the industrialized world. Others respond back saying it's not that bad, at 'only' 5 deaths per 1000 births, it's just 'one down' from countries like the UK at 4 deaths per 1000.
Well, you might say, that's not so bad! Only 5 deaths! But wait! That's per 1000 births. Do you know HOW many babies are born in the US every day? Every year? My little local hospital has about 500 births per year alone. While simplifying the numbers to the lowest possible denominator might make it look not too bad, it really doesn't show the broad picture!

And really, in the broad scheme of things, is the number the important thing, or the attitudes that create the numbers? Is 5 deaths per 1000 worse in the US because it's industrialized, or is it worse in Uganda because it's NOT industrialized? (Note---I just picked Uganda out of thin air. I have no clue about it's actual rates, although I assume it's not the same as the US). Are those in Uganda happy with their numbers because they could be worse while the same numbers in the US create fury because they should be better?

And do statistics help birthing mothers? If I know my baby is posterior, do I want to hear that my chance of a c-section has gone up by 75%? Or do I want to hear about and how to rotate the peanut? Do I want to know that my hospital has a 30% c-section rate or do I want to know how to prevent a c-section for myself? Do I want to know that 25% of women who have an epidural get a spinal headache, or do I want to learn how to birth without numbing my body? I don't think it's naive to ignore the statistics; or rather, the better option is to learn the statistics but to learn what to do about the situation. Just because the hospital has a 50% epidural rate doesn't mean I have a 1 in 2 chance of having an epidural.

Knowledge is power; what you fear you create; what you focus on expands.

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