The Most Important Mother’s Day Gift Ever
Mother’s Day, which is coming up this Sunday, is a day when we take the time to show our mothers how much we love and appreciate them. However, as a country, we could be doing so much more to show mothers how much we care and support them, and not just on Mother’s Day. On this Mother’s day, please consider doing more than just putting a cute card in the mail, or giving your mom a phone call (which you should do as well). Consider helping to make motherhood a safer and more viable option for all women in the U.S.
Despite spending more health care dollars per capita than any other country in the world, when it comes to preventing a woman from dying during pregnancy or childbirth, the U.S. is doing a poor job. The current maternal mortality rate is almost four times higher than the goal rate set by the federal government in 2010. Countries like Greece, Kuwait, and Singapore assure their pregnant women safer outcomes. In the U.S. two to three women die of pregnancy-related complications every day. Half of these deaths are the result of PREVENTABLE causes. Annually, 1.7 million U.S. women, one-third of those who give birth, experience a complication during pregnancy severe enough to have an adverse effect on their health.
Consider the story of Linda Coale, a 35-year old woman who gave birth to baby Benjamin by C-section on September 27, 2007. One week after returning home, Coale died from a blood clot in her lungs. Upon discharge from the hospital, she had received information about acclimatizing pets to a new baby, but had not received any detailed information on the warning signs of a DVTs (deep vein thrombosis), blood clots that can from in one’s legs and that can subsequently break off and moves to one’s lungs. This omission is made more disturbing by the fact that Coale was known to be at heightened risk for developing a DVT, given her age and given that she had recently undergone a surgical procedure (the C-section). Her sister, Lori, said, “Knowing Linda was once an emergency medical technician, if those discharge papers had said [her symptoms]…could be a sign of a blood clot, in my heat of hearts I believe that she would have acted on it.”
Maternal health concerns extend far beyond the health of the soon-to-be-born child. The health and safety of the mother herself needs to be prioritized prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and following pregnancy. While Coale’s complications took place after she gave birth, other pregnancy complications can begin during the pregnancy and continue past birth, including gestational diabetes, depression, pregnancy-related obesity and placenta related issues. Again, many of these complications could be addressed before becoming dangerous or lethal through proper education (such as may have happened in Coale’s case), or via a simple doctor’s visit, which could have saved Tameka McFarqurhar.
McFarquhar was a 22-year-old woman, who, in December of 2004, bled to death in her apartment in Watertown, New York. She had given birth to her first child, Danasia Elizabeth, on December 14 and was discharged from the hospital the next day. Mother and baby were found dead on Christmas morning. Friends and family, who were unable to reach her, had pleaded with police and her landlord to check in on the new mother, but it was a week before they were able to gain access to the apartment. The medical examiner reported that the death resulted due to the incomplete removal of the placenta from the young woman’s uterus. According to one expert, a postpartum check-up visit would have identified McFarquhar’s condition before it became life threatening.
That’s all it takes to save a life: one checkup or a conversation with a doctor. Properly dispersed information is incredibly powerful and would have been life-saving for Coale and McFarqurhar. There’s no denying that we love our mothers. So, let’s love all mothers-to-be and talk about their needs extensively. Please consider writing to you Congressperson and asking him/her to support funding for maternal health education. A child should not have to live without its mother, and a mother shouldn’t lose her life giving life to her child.