How to have a safe, healthy pregnancy
People are dying during childbirth at a historic rate in the U.S., with mortality levels reaching figures not seen in almost 60 years.
More than 1,200 people died during or soon after pregnancy in 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a 40% increase from 2020.
That equates to 33 deaths for every 100,000 live births, the highest rate the U.S. has seen since 1965. Maternal death rates in the U.S. are higher than any other high-income country, where death rates have actually declined since 2000.
COVID and disruptions to women’s health and maternal care were factors during the pandemic, which also worsened additional risk factors.
“We’ve been watching maternal health for years before the pandemic,” says Dr. Nicole Salvo, obstetrics and gynecologist physician with Aurora Health Care. “The things that make us concerned are increasing age at time of conception and delivery, high rate of c-sections, people with limited access to prenatal care, and increasing rates of chronic illness like obesity, diabetes and hypertension.”
Black mothers are most affected, with a mortality rate two and a half times higher than the rate for white women. Hispanic mortality from childbirth outnumbered white mothers, too. Childbirth deaths are also more common among people over 40 years old and people living in rural areas with less access to care and services.
One key to a safe and healthy pregnancy for moms and babies is sticking to the basics: eating healthy, staying active and not drinking alcohol or smoking.
But another key factor is stopping what’s preventable and working with your doctor and midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant. Prenatal check-ups get mothers the information and resources they need. Getting tested for diabetes and looking at your family history can help prevent complications and cesarean section deliveries that put moms at risk.
“Individual patients have individual concerns. We tailor our care to that patient so they can have the healthiest pregnancy possible,” says Dr. Salvo. “Ask questions important to you so your care team can make your delivery a positive, safe experience. Your doctor is in your corner all the time.”
Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin.
About the Author
Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.