A Still Birth Delivery - why does this Happen to 30,000 American Mothers
One story that got a lot of people talking recently was the one that
declared that there were more than 2 million babies stillborn around the
world every year. And that's a number that hasn't shown any signs of
improving in years. Most people who read the story wondered about how we
did in America with stillbirths. In America, as it is in most of the
world, a non-live birth delivery at 22 weeks would count as one.
Certainly, one can understand why there should be all kinds of
unacceptably cruel ends to pregnancies in poverty-stricken parts of the
world like the sub-Saharan Africa. Why does one out of 200 babies in
America arrive as a stillbirth though? And why doesn't anyone talk about
it when there are nearly 30,000 babies who don't make it out alive every
year in this country? People talk about infant mortality and say that
it's a scandal that the number should be so high for a country like the
US. How about stillbirths? No one talks about that.
While it is access to too little nutrition and medical care that does
babies in, in parts of the world that are poor, the problem in America is
kind of different. Here, about 25% of all stillbirths occur because the
mothers involved are overweight. Any mother who is overweight to begin
with or puts on weight during pregnancy really needs to think about what
it means for her unborn child. Too much weight is supposed to be one of
the biggest risk factors in pregnancy – one that could result in a birth
delivery where chances of survival are poor.
Our movies, TV shows and newspapers have missed no opportunity in years
to drum it into people's heads that these can be dangerous things to do
when one is pregnant. Still, the message hasn't really gone across that
well. More than 1000 babies a year are stillborn because their mothers
smoke heavily while they were pregnant.
Perhaps one reason people just don't think too much about the still birth
delivery today is that they just don't believe that we could still have
them in this day and age. This kind of psychological blindness does occur
in any society from time to time. We just refuse to believe what we see.
And then, in America, the authorities don't usually publish stillbirths
as a separate figure too. They add them in with the infant mortality
figures. So no one really ever gets to know.
As you might know, it is women from poor families, and women who live in
rural areas who have the hardest time carrying a pregnancy to term. They
have less education, more stressful lives and less access to medical
care. Countries around the world that are no more affluent than America,
Norway and Sweden for instance, do a lot better. It's all about making
society equal for all. But the good news is that most stillbirths are
preventable. All we need is to bring enough care and attention to all
women who need it.