A quick look at some of the numbers relating to maternal health:
- Approximately 11.9% of women have received infertility services in their lifetime, with infertility defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.
- At least 1 in 4 women will suffer a recognized miscarriage, or the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks gestation. Numbers are estimated to be higher when accounting for early miscarriage, which may go unrecognized.
- In the U.S. today, approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth, or death of a fetus after 24 weeks gestation. The rate of stillbirth in the U.S. is ten times that of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- It is estimated that 30-50% of stillbirths go unexplained by modern medicine; often no cause is found even after testing.
- 1 in 7 women report experiencing postpartum depression, and yet it's estimated that most women never report PPD symptoms for fear of judgement, or because they simply do not recognize their symptoms as PPD, or related concerns like anxiety, OCD, or psychosis.
- Between 1990 and 2013 the maternal mortality rate in the United States more than doubled; a woman in the U.S. faces a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death.
- The U.S. ranked No.61 on maternal health in the 2015 State of the World's Mothers report, making it the lowest ranked developed country.
Things You May Not Know About Stillbirth & Neonatal Loss
- More than 50% of stillbirths occur in the third trimester.
- 15% of stillbirths occur during labor and delivery.
- The causes of stillbirth include, but are not limited to, umbilical cord accidents, lack of oxygen during delivery, postdate pregnancy, placental abruption and blood clots, maternal diabetes, high blood pressure, infection, trauma, fetal growth restriction, and genetic abnormalities or birth defects.
- In approximately 30-50% of stillbirths, no cause for death can be determined.
- Women who suffer a stillbirth are most likely induced for labor and delivery, or undergo c-section if urgent medical intervention is required.
- Women who are induced for labor give birth in maternity wards, alongside other mothers who are giving birth to live babies.
- Mothers who deliver stillborn babies are required by law to bury or cremate their children, and must authorize or deny an autopsy to help determine cause of death. Unfortunately, autopsies for stillbirth are not covered by insurance and thus parents unable to pay out-of-pocket do not have the chance to potentially identify cause of death, and that critical data goes unrecorded for research efforts.
- Parents who do authorize and pay for autopsy in cases of stillbirth, neonatal death or Sudden Infant Death often wait months or over a year for autopsy results due to backlogs in paperwork, even though the procedures are done immediately.
- Parents who lose a child to stillbirth receive a death certificate, but not a birth certificate.
- Parents who lose a child to stillbirth are not guaranteed maternity or paternity leave, with no guarantee of paid or unpaid time off to heal physically following labor or c-section, or to bury or grieve their child.
- Women who suffer a stillbirth or neonatal loss are at high risk for postpartum depression, anxiety, and PTSD but are not included in postpartum screenings. In fact, most women report zero follow up from healthcare providers, neither for physical nor mental health checkups following loss. In many cases, women feel abandoned by their medical teams.
- Couples who suffer a stillbirth are 40% more likely to break up than those who have a live birth, while couples who miscarry are 20% more likely to break up than those who have a live birth. Unfortunately, few couples receive grief guidance following loss.
- Most mothers report losing close relationships with family members and friends following loss, as people are often unable to express empathy and support in ways that are helpful rather than unintentionally hurtful, leaving parents angry, upset, isolated and feeling alone.