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February 18, 2019

Why Are American Women Dying From Childbirth?

The US has the Highest Maternal Death Rate in any developed country in the world!

I bet you didn’t know that…

It is hard to believe that in this century, with the advancements in all aspects of our lives from tech, education, research and health, that something as natural as childbirth can be life threatening for women living in the US.

Maternal death rates are 6 times higher in the US when compared to Scandinavia and 3 times higher then Canada!


Maternal Death is measured by the Center for Disease Control from the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination. This number is decreasing in other countries, but rising every year in the US. In 2017, NPR reported that in 2015, US had a maternal death rate of 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, while UK had 9.2 and Canada had 7.3.

That means that between 700-900 American women die each year as a result of childbirth!

The World Health Organization outlined some of the causes of maternal death:

  • Severe bleedingafter birth can kill a healthy woman within hours if she is not attended to ASAP.
  • Infection after childbirth can be eliminated if early signs of infection are recognized and treated in a timely manner.
  • Pre-eclampsia is when blood pressure goes above 140/90 and it should be detected and managed ASAP. Otherwise women are at risk of having a stroke which can be deadly.

A recent analysis by the CDC foundation found that 60% of these deaths caused by severe bleeding, infection and pre-eclampsia are preventable! 

Investigations by NPR and Propublica outlined how these deaths can be prevented in the US:
1. Hospital protocols for dealing with potentially fatal complications are not standardized, allowing for treatable complications to become lethal.
2. Hospitals — including those with intensive care units for newborns — are often not prepared for a maternal emergency.
3. Federal and state funding show only 6 percent of grants for “maternal and child health” actually go to the health of mothers. Where does the other 94% go?
4. Poorly Trained Doctors – In the U.S, some doctors that become maternal-fetal medicine specialists were able to complete that training without ever spending a minute in a labor-delivery unit.

Medical care offered to new moms in hospitals needs to improve! There is also an urgent need for the federal funds to be used for more research focused on the prevention of maternal mortality.

It’s not like there has not been improvements in healthcare. According to the CDC, the infant mortality rate in the US has declined sharply, however the mortality rate of mothers increases every year.


In the hospital settings the focus of care goes from the mother to the baby after delivery. Women often leave the hospital with detailed instructions on what to do in case the baby gets sick, but not what to do if the mom develops problems.

My advice to all moms, is to try to be actively involved with their own health care. Make sure to keep a record of all your blood tests and blood pressure measurements throughout your entire pregnancy and after delivery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to demand extra care when you are not feeling well.

Mothers need to advocate for better health care!

As many of you know, I am an advocate for better health care for postpartum moms and created a program that can be used to help mothers recover from childbirth. Compared to other countries, doctors in the US do not regularly recommend postpartum physical rehabilitation programs. In many European countries, mothers go for physical therapy treatment starting at 6 weeks postpartum to regain the strength in their pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Most of the women I see in my office are not referred by their doctors, they are coming in because they are doing their own research and feel they deserve medical attention.

So, moms, do your own research and speak to your friends and family about your health. Do not sit back and suffer needlessly. You deserve better ongoing medical care after childbirth!


Also, if you would like a free copy of the Baby Bod Guide of the 5 of best exercises every moms needs to do. CLICK HERE

Check out Marianne on instagram: INSTAGRAM LINK

MARIANNE RYAN PT, OCS is an award-winning author, physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist with more than 30 years’ experience treating prenatal and postpartum women. She is the owner and Clinical Director of Marianne Ryan Physical Therapy in New York City and the creator of the groundbreaking DIY “Baby Bod” program, which is the first of its kind to bridge the gap between medical care and fitness advice. As a leading women’s health expert (and a mom), Marianne is passionate about helping women reclaim their changed bodies, whether they are pregnant, recently took part in the joy of birth or are experiencing the “joy” of menopause. Watch her TEDX video, “What Your Momma Never Told You About Childbirth” – CLICK HERE 

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