The answer is an astonishing, yes. The Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality (AHRQ) released a report on May 19, 2011 stating 9 out of 10 American pregnant women have complications while pregnant and during their delivery. Angela Burgin Logan was one of those women. She almost died because of pre-eclampsia but beat the odds and has produced a movie, called Breathe that tells her compelling story. She was also the topic of my previous blog almost a year ago.
The AHRQ’s report was enlightening. Of the 4.2 million deliveries that occurred in 2008, 94.1 percent has a complication. Some of those complications include urinary tract infections, anemia and vomiting. The treatment of these conditions is usually straightforward and uncomplicated. However, hypertension and the dreaded pre-eclampsia is a different matter. These conditions are unforgiving if misdiagnosed or not properly treated.
The hospital stay of women with complications who didn’t deliver was an average of 2.9 days compared to 1.9 days for women who didn’t have complications or a delivery. It is also expensive with a price tag of $17.4 billion dollars and represents 5 percent of all U.S. hospital costs. The average age of women who were admitted for complications was 27. Older women between the ages of 35 to 44 represented 15% of hospital admissions with pregnancy complications.
Pregnant women who live in rural and large urban communities are at greater risk for having significant complications that include umbilical cord accident, hypertension and preeclampsia. The West and the Midwest regions of the U.S. have the greatest delivery complications. Medicaid pregnant patients were admitted to the hospital and treated more frequently than non-Medicaid patients. However, pregnant women with private insurance had more complications at the time of their deliveries according to the AHRQ’s report.
What does all of this mean? That no one is exempt from having a complication during their pregnancy or delivery. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Ask your OB provider whether he or she participates in “hospital simulations” regarding “what if?” scenarios. For example, “What if I don’t feel the baby move?” “What if I start to bleed?” Your healthcare provider should be able to articulate a detailed plan regarding your management.
And please pick up a copy of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy. It was written to empower patients to recognize potential red flags of their pregnancy and how complications could be managed before they spin out of control. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.