And there it was on the front page of the New York Times for the whole world to see. Where Life Starts Is a Deadly Risk, by Denise Grady, described a harsh reality that is often mentioned as a mere footnote. More than half a million pregnant women die from preventable deaths and over a quarter million occur in Africa. Of course there are not enough financial and human resources available and their stories are disheartening. For each woman who dies, 20 more encounter serious complications. Physicians state that more deaths occur outside the hospital because many try to give birth at home. This leads to my next point.
There are a growing number of women who want to give birth at home alone, without a midwife or birth attendant. I posted a blog about this “unassisted” phenomena a few weeks ago after one of their advocates’ baby ended up dead. I subsequently received a comment from a woman who discussed how “tribal” women would rather deliver without intervention and their biggest obstacle was poverty. Not so. There are millions of African women who would love to trade places with the “unassisted” crowd in a heartbeat. Yes, childbirth is a natural act but it is not exempt from danger.
Grady’s article reads like a litany of horror. A mother of six bled to death because the nurses did not know how to remove the placenta. A mother of quadruplets died leaving four beautiful babies in an orphanage. Two and three laboring women sharing one cot. America, we are so blessed. The cost to run a hospital in Tanzania costs $200,000 a year. I challenge the American College of Obstetricians-Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Board of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (ABOG) and all the rest of the deep-pocket women’s organizations to step up to the plate. We are our sisters’ keepers. When a mother and baby die, the whole world mourns.