U.S. slips in world ranking as a great place to have a baby
"While being done with pregnancy may seem tempting during those last few weeks, inducing labor is associated with increased risks including prematurity, cesarean surgery, hemorrhage and infection," said Bingham.
Pulmonary embolism and hemorrhaging — or uncontrolled bleeding — are two of the top causes of maternal mortality. After birth when the placenta separates, the uterus camps down to stanch the bleeding, but if the womb is tired, has become infected from long labor or suffers other complications the prevent shrinking, a woman can lose her entire blood volume in 10 minutes.
Early induction, hypertension, obesity and C-sections are all associated with higher risk of hemorrhage.
Looking out for mom
Some countries, like Afghanistan, have had great success with mother mortality rates through the use of trained midwives and birth attendants, and the same idea can be applied in the U.S., said Miles, by putting a focus on community healthcare in poor neighborhoods.
"Our health care systems really doesn't cater to the most disadvantaged people," said Miles. "It's a blanket system that gives many people access, but ignores high-risk populations."
The Affordable Care Act seeks to get coverage for more women and mandates that insurance covers 100 percent of prenatal care, maternity care and contraception. Save the Children's report ranks countries based on four criteria, and the U.S. ranks high in two of them — education and economic opportunity for women. It fares worse in infant and child mortality, and very poorly in women's representation in government.
The U.S. is ranked 96th in the world for women representation in government. Women make up 51 percent of the population in the U.S., but hold only 19 percent of the seats in Congress and the Senate. By comparison, in Finland and Sweden, women hold about 43 percent of parliamentary seats; in Rwanda they hold 58 percent.
"Women tend to make better health care policies that focus on women and children," said Miles. "That could really change things."
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