If you're feeling a little too happy today — you know, because everything seems to be going so well and all — take a look at this Washington Post article on maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. The piece, which ran on Sunday, profiles first-time mother Saio Marah, who needs an emergency C-section after two days of labor, but has to wait for a surgical team to arrive from their homes and do the procedure. In the meantime the baby dies, and they bury it in a special graveyard set aside for the hospital's many stillbirths. But Marah survives, unlike many of her countrywomen, who have a one in eight chance of dying in childbirth. And like many supposed Third World problems, maternal mortality is a First World problem too.The Washington Post article focuses (in, it must be said, classic first-world style) on uniquely Sierra Leonean aspects of Marah's plight. The doctor who finally performs her C-section is an ophthalmologist, not an obstetrician, because of the scarcity of doctors in Marah's remote area. The article mentions bugs in the operating room not once, but twice. Marah's husband has to run out and buy her a catheter, and other operations have apparently been delayed while husbands buy rubber gloves for the doctors. Okay, we get it, Sierra Leone is a backward country where hygiene is poor and human life takes a backseat to money. Here in, the U.S., women give birth to healthy babies in nice hospitals full of flowers. Right? Right? Seriously, the Post article offers a heart-wrenching look at a preventable death, and rightly draws our attention to the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. But let's not forget that the US ranks worst among industrialized nations in maternal mortality, or that black women in the US die in childbirth at four times the rate of whites. Marah's story is worse than that of many American women, but not all, and it's worth remembering that, when it comes to maternal mortality, our "developed" country may not have come as far as we think. In Sierra Leone, Every Pregnancy Is A 'Chance of Dying' [Washington Post] Earlier: Pregnant Women In Poverty Often Die Needlessly Midwife Nurses in Mozambique Fight Maternal Mortality
I'll grant you that I have been reading mothering magazine too much, but I do wonder how on earth this country got to the place where it celebrates conception and beautiful affluent well fed children, but doesn't give a damn about the mothers.
Wouldn't it be interesting if, in addition to sex-ed classes (if you can get them) a section on maternal health and well being was offered. Covering things like basic food choices, breastfeeding, and how (and where) to get help when you need it.
I know that doesn't cover all the aspects of this issue, but hell, as a first time mom, when I got pregnant I knew NOTHING about having, or dealing with a baby (or the complications that can happen.)