How To Prevent Maternal Mortality

The birth of your child is usually a happy event. But the lead-up to this momentous occasion can be scary when you don’t know what to expect. As new parents, you worry about the possible complications that can arise during your pregnancy, childbirth, and the health of both you and your child. This is why it’s important for you to learn about issues surrounding maternal mortality and how to reduce the risk for yourself. 

Treating Common Obstetrical Problems 

In my experience, I have found that treating the common obstetrical problems significantly decreases the complications. If elevated blood pressure shows up early in your pregnancy, it should be addressed immediately rather than wait until you develop pre-eclampsia and need an emergency c-section. 

Ending Violent Births 

I have always believed that the baby should decide when to be born. Once the amniotic sack or your “water” is broken, there’s traditionally a 24-hour window for a woman to go into labor and give birth. However, in this situation, there’s no need to induce labor with Pitocin. The effect of Pitocin on the baby during inductions has never been studied, but we do know that more fetal distress shows up in induced labors than in natural births.  

C-sections are the most common surgical procedure performed in hospitals. This is the more expensive birth optionyet the rate of C-sections increases every year. Some women choose to have c-sections because they believe they are less painful than vaginal births. However, obstetricians often promote c-sections to their patients because they can be done in less time than monitoring a mother in natural labor.  You should be given complete information about the risks to both types of delivery and decide for yourself which type of delivery you prefer. 

Leaving A Dysfunctional Obstetrical Unit 

For a successful pregnancy and childbirth, you need a lot of support. This means you should have an advocate by your side to help you make decisions, especially if complications arise. A midwife or a doula can fill in this role and support your health and well being. If you find yourself in circumstances in which your obstetric caregivers or doctors don’t listen to your complaints, your advocate can immediately go to work to get the attention you need and find someone who will listen and take care of any problems. It’s not talked about much, but successful labor depends in large part on feeling safe 

In very rare instances, the staff, administrative nurses, caregivers, or doctors won’t listen to you.  Discuss the possibility of leaving the hospital with your advocate. If the person supporting you in your delivery agrees with you, have that person find a wheelchair and wheel you out of the obstetrical unit and over to the hospital emergency room. If you feel up to it, there’s no reason you have to stop at the hospital emergency room. Get in your car and go to a nearby hospital.  

Always remember that one of the most important things to have is a caring obstetrical team that will take the time to listen to what you tell them, to listen to your needs for a successful birth. 

Studies have shown that 60 percent of maternal mortalities are preventable. You and your advocate can take steps to promote the healthy, safe delivery you have envisioned for you and your family. 

Dr. Alan Lindemann

Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN)​

He is an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert with 4 decades of medical practice beginning in Minnesota and presently in North Dakota. He has delivered around 6,000 babies with zero maternal deaths.