More women are dying from childbirth now, and it’s scary

In extremely scary science news, a new analysis of data — originally released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention — by Vox  has us pretty freaked out. Why? Because, despite progress made in the medical field, one country is an outlier when it comes to the likelihood of women dying from childbirth. And that country? The United States.


While high rates of women dying of childbirth anywhere is a bad thing, it’s particularly shocking to see that we rank lower than less developed countries when it comes to our likelihood of surviving pregnancy.

Why more American women are dying from childbirth.

1. The rate of maternal mortality, or how likely we are to die from pregnancy, has increased.

“During the 20th century, the maternal death rate in the United States dropped from 607.9 deaths per 100,000 births in 1915 to 7.2 in 1987,” Vox’s Sarah Frostenson writes. “But over the past 30 years, the maternal mortality rate trend reversed and steadily marched upward.”

So, yeah, we’ve made a lot of progress medically, but we’re seeing what appears to be a reversal regarding our ability to get pregnant, and survive the pregnancy. It’s scary AF, and really serious.

2. But we’re less likely to die from emergency room complications.

When women died during pregnancy in the past, they used to die of emergency room complications, like hemorrhages, aka bleeding to death. This occurred in one-third of pregnancy-related deaths. Now, though, it’s a result of broader health issues. Are we relieved, or more afraid? We’re unsure how to feel.


3. Instead, we’re dying from other diseases that impact our pregnancies.

“We’ve seen a big bump in cardiovascular disease and chronic disease contributing to maternal deaths,” Dr. William Callaghan told Vox. “Underlying heart disease is common, diabetes is common.”

As Dr. Callaghan, the chief of maternal and infant health at the CDC explained, “We now have a group of women bringing with them into pregnancy their entire health history.” Basically, more and more women are suffering from diseases unrelated to pregnancy, ones that contribute to the high chance of us dying as a result of our pregnancies.

4. As always, race plays a role.

As the result of racist health practices, black women and women of color are less likely to go to the doctor regularly because of a combination of fear (remember how women of color were sterilized and black people were given STDs in the name of science?) and lack of access. The analysis by Vox found that the data illustrated the role of race in death from childbirth. Specifically, black women are over three times as likely to die from childbirth as white women.

5. It’s a symptom of our society’s health problems.

In short? Our country is really, really unhealthy. And it’s having real impact on our ability to survive birth. “It’s a larger problem than just dealing with women during pregnancy, it’s the health of our society,” Dr. Callaghan told Vox. “Imagine a [pregnant] woman comes in with BMI of 40, and she’s 24 years old — that didn’t happen in the past year, it happened in the past 24 years.”

As a result of our unhealthy country, more and more of us are dying from childbirth.


This is *major* whether you’re planning on giving birth or not, because it impacts all of us. Dying from childbirth is a huge deal. Read through the study and inform your friends. If we’re going to fight this, we have to all be taking it seriously, and giving a lot of thought about what this means for our society.

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