Reduce Maternal Mortality: Increase Access, Quality Care, and Postpartum Support
There’s no single solution to address rising rates of maternal mortality, but it does require a commitment among all stakeholders.
Women need better access to quality care and basic screenings for risk factors and chronic diseases.
In the U.K., where I trained as a doctor, most women deliver their babies with midwives. Midwives can provide prenatal care, assist with childbirth, provide support during the postpartum period, and address the social and environmental factors that negatively impact health outcomes.
Yet in the U.S., childbirth is still viewed—and treated as—a disease and a medical event rather than the normal, natural phenomenon it is. Despite everything we know about the complications of c-sections, rates still linger at more than 31%.
The U.S. also has the lowest amount of midwives—likely because most health plans won’t cover the cost, but they could prevent 41% of maternal deaths, a 2021 study in The Lancet Global Health suggests.
That’s the case in California where maternal mortality rates are the lowest in the country, Kaiser Permanente has a large presence, and prenatal care provided by midwives has increased in recent years.
Home visits within 6 weeks of delivery also have value, and allow providers to address the social determinants of health (SDoH) that women may not be able to articulate or that are not easily identified by an in-office visit such as poor housing and unsafe environments.