American Mothers Die in Childbirth, But These Deaths Are Preventable; Most people don’t realize that America, for all our advanced technology & high-tech medicine, has one of highest maternal deaths
by Paul Alexander
African-American women (Kira Johnson) 4 times likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women...why? Let us not sweep it under the rug, we have to confront this preventable disaster
Reckless procedures are being done….on brown and black women, why? I am studying this closely to comment on more but wanted to share this to open the debate.
Great piece by Jennifer Margulis who must be commented for this bravery and beautiful writing and tenderness to Kira. Support Jennifer.
Now her bereaved husband is suing the hospital
Kira Johnson, 39, spoke five languages, raced cars, had a pilot’s license, and skydived as a hobby. She, her husband Charles, and their son, Charles, Jr., were thrilled to be adding another baby to the family. But during a planned C-section in the hospital, things went very, very wrong. Photo credit: 4 Kira 4 Moms https://4kira4moms.com/who-are-we/
On April 12, 2016, Kira Johnson kissed her oldest son goodbye and then went into the operating room at Cedars-Sinai.
She was nine months pregnant and having a planned C-section.
Twelve hours after the operation, Kira Johnson, who was 39 years old, died.
Her bereaved husband, left to raise their two sons on his own, is suing the hospital. He believes that his wife would still be alive if she had not been black.
According to the civil rights suit that Charles Johnson has filed against the hospital, “The surgery was done recklessly.”
Despite the fact that having a Cesarean is a major abdominal procedure, the time from start to finish was only 17 minutes; later the doctors found three liters of blood in her wife’s abdomen; and despite the fact that there was blood in her catheter, the nurses ignored the family’s pleas for help, according to CBS News.
The doctors likely lacerated her bladder during the surgery, according to the non-profit Consumer Watchdog. Medical records show that she had been bleeding for hours.
American Moms Die During Childbirth, But These Deaths Are Preventable
Most people don’t realize that America, for all our advanced technology and cutting-edge medicine, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates of any country in the industrialized world.
An extensive report by Amnesty International, published in 2010, found that African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.
The number of women who nearly die in childbirth in America is shockingly high as well. The same report from Amnesty International found that severe complications that resulted in women almost dying in childbirth increased 25 percent from 1998 to 2005. Nearly 68,500 women had “near misses,” meaning they almost died, in just one year alone. As if that’s not bad enough, over 1.7 million women who birth in America experience a complication that negatively affects their health.
Medical doctors make enormous profits off of sick people in America. Though pregnancy is a time of good health, doctors also profit enormously off women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Most conventional doctors treat pregnancy like a disaster waiting to happen; give pregnant women terrible, unsafe advice; and undermine their confidence in their bodies.
It’s also true that Cesarean birth is more lucrative for hospitals and doctors, which, I believe, is one of the primary reasons America’s C-section rates are much higher than they should be.
Indeed, one recent study by a team of California researchers found that financial incentives drive C-section rates. Other studies, including a 2017 meta-analysis done by an international team of scientists, have found that women with private insurance are more likely to need “emergency” Cesareans.
At the same time, however, the medical mainstream blames mothers themselves for the high maternal mortality rate in our country. According to mainstream doctors, moms are too fat (“fluffy”), too old (“geriatric primigravida”), or too disenfranchised.
But I believe that the truth is very different from what we’ve all been led to believe.
1. Our broken maternity “care” system drives the high maternal mortality rates.
Instead of a patient-centered system, we have a profit-driven system. The way women who birth in the hospital are treated is made based on what is in the best interests of the hospital bottom line, not the health of the mom or her baby. And it is these systemic problems that make birth in America especially dangerous.
2. C-section birth is not obstetrics.
As a highly skilled and experienced obstetrician in Norway told me when I interviewed him for one of my books, Cesarean birth is the failure of doctors and birth attendants to do their job.
Babies Born Vaginally Are Healthier, Moms Are Too
The optimal way for a baby to be born is via the vagina. Not only does this ensure the baby will have the healthiest possible microbiome, vaginal birth is also better for a baby’s lungs and blood sugar. Infants risk suffering from lacerations during C-section birth. They also risk dying.
According to one study, an infant born via C-section is at least five times more likely to die than an infant born vaginally.
Among the birth-related complications C-section moms may experience:
Blood loss, which can be lethal
Chronic post-partum pain
Placental accreta and other placental problems
When it is truly necessary, there is no question that a C-section can be a life-saving operation.
But, as you can see, there is a plethora of scientific literature showing that vaginal birth is the best, safest, healthiest choice.
Despite this, nearly one third of babies in America are born abdominally instead of vaginally. And, tragically, at least half—likely much more—of Cesarean births performed in the United States are unnecessary.
Yes, there are gross inequities in our healthcare system. Kira Johnson’s family was treated in the worst way. It seems clear that the Johnsons received subpar care, both during and after the birth of their second son. All the money in the world won’t bring Kira Johnson back. But the Johnson family deserves to be compensated for their devastating loss and Cedars-Sinai needs to implement strategies to fix their dysfunctional, dangerous, and racist birth practices.
And, also yes, America’s broken maternity system is failing nearly every woman in this country, regardless of the color of her skin.