NOTICE: The maternal mortality rate in Indiana is high. Blame our health care system.


As a woman in her early 20s, childbirth isn’t exactly on my immediate radar. It’s sort of an abstract concept, only considered when my mom tells me to be careful because the women in my family are notoriously “fertile myrtles” or when my Flo app causes an “early signs of pregnancy?” »Alarming and frankly unjustified? information tab.

In summary, this is not a topic that I have strongly considered beyond the general premise of potentially having a child many years from now. Lately, however, I have felt compelled by our health care system – or the lack of it – to take a more serious look at my potential for motherhood and its potential effects on myself, my family, or my future children.

Therefore, it requires women to do our own research and develop our own plans for dealing with childbirth. We need to do this not only to protect our babies, but to protect ourselves. Infant mortality rates have fallen to historically low levels, but it has come at the expense of maternal care, which is largely neglected instead of prioritizing fetuses, according to ProPublica and NPR.

Not only does childbirth tend to be risky in general, it is especially so in the United States. In the developed world, the United States has the worst record of pregnancy or childbirth-related deaths with between 700 and 900 deaths and about 65,000 near-deaths each year, according to NPR. These rates are particularly high in Indiana.

Last month, the IndyStar released a series of research and reports on maternal mortality in the state. He found significant inaccuracies in how maternal deaths are classified, at what stage of the postpartum process these mothers actually die, and whether their deaths were pregnancy-related or pregnancy-related. Pregnancy-related deaths are caused by a complication of the pregnancy or childbirth itself, while pregnancy-related deaths include all deaths that occur within one year of the birth, regardless of the date. cause.

In general, the IndyStar found a lack of reliable state reports, instances where the cause of death could not be determined, and discrepancies between different states regarding maternal mortality.

While the Indiana Maternal Mortality Review Board is aware of the mistakes of the past and works to correct them, this leaves a significant question mark for women seeking pre- or post-care. reliable natals. Having a child can be an intense process anywhere, but especially for Hoosiers.

In general, The Star’s reporting has also shown that rural Hoosiers are particularly at risk due to “obstetric deserts” or places without birth rooms. Black women are also at greater risk due to the frequent neglect of legitimate concerns expressed not only during childbirth, but in the provision of health care to black people in general. He also found that substance abuse and mental health issues were contributing factors to postpartum deaths.

So what are we supposed to do as women? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle and treating any health concerns before conception. But what about the nearly 50% of all unplanned pregnancies? What about women who have no access to health care at all?

For women who have health care, elective cesarean sections put them at increased risk of life-threatening complications. Childbirth on Saturday or Sunday also increases the risk of complications, also known as the ‘weekend effect’, which results in a 50% higher death rate, more blood transfusions and more perineal tearing. .

I’ll try to remember all of this when my water breaks. If you see it happening on a Saturday or Sunday, no you haven’t.

All kidding aside, we need to take women’s health care more seriously and provide more and more substantial options for pregnant women. While hospital births deserve broad support for those who choose them, we also need to remove the stigma surrounding midwives and home births, as many women choose these options for their reduced cost, lack of hospital and health care prejudices and their ability to be more independent in the pregnancy process.

While these internal conversations may seem premature in their twenties, they are not necessarily unjustifiable. Taking charge of health care is important, especially considering the recent attacks on a woman’s right to choose. While this is unfair and deserves greater attention from society, I cannot just sit idly by and wait for something to happen to me. I will do whatever I can to avoid becoming another contributor to this state’s heinous maternal mortality statistics.

Natalie Gabor (she / she) is a journalism student with minors in Corporate Marketing and Philosophy. She hopes one day to find a career that surpasses her brief stint as a Vans employee.

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