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Maternal Health Blog

Complications In Pregnancy: Who Do You Know?

I wasn”t expecting to find a Facebook posting from a friend yesterday morning announcing that she and her husband had welcomed their first child. Their son had arrived three weeks early, and thanks to an emergency c-section both baby and mom were doing well. Phew.

That news prompted me to think about my nephew whose delivery, a little over a year ago, was not easy on my sister-in-law. After hours of labor it was decided that the little guy was far too wedged -- he simply could not be delivered vaginally. So out he came via c-section and today he”s a happy, healthy one-year-old. Phew, again.

Regardless of where you live or how good your health care is, 15% of all women will suffer a complication from pregnancy or childbirth. But a complication does not have to be a death sentence for a woman or her child. If women have access to health services during pregnancy and delivery, complications can be identified and addressed.

As an advocate for maternal health, I am constantly searching for the best way to compel my audience to care about this issue. When I”m talking to a Member of Congress or their staff I might say, “Hundreds of thousands of women die each year; a woman nearly every minute of every day’. And then wait to see whether their faces register concern or outrage at this news.

Today, I might start this way: “Do you know a woman who suffered a complication during her pregnancy or delivery?’ Because chances are, they have. It”s so easy to think that the issues facing women in developing countries are foreign issues. It”s easy to assume that the women who suffer a sever complication are those with no access to medical care, and have to walk five miles to the nearest hospital to deliver in a place that, in all likelihood, you will never visit. But that”s simply not true. Because these women are here -- in this country -- and you know them. It might be your wife, or your sister-in-law, or maybe it is you. Complications in pregnancy and delivery are not a foreign problem. They are a global problem. And we can all be a part of the solution if we demand that no woman should die giving life.

Posted by kporter@care.org on Oct 6, 2010 6:05 PM US/Eastern

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