Remember the mothers
October 6, 2012 1:23 PM   Subscribe

The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates, as well as to the gross underreporting of maternal deaths in the United States, and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies (17 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seeing Ina May Gaskin was involved activated my side-eye, but I reviewed the site and this seems like a lovely, agenda-free project. And the quilt pieces are really beautiful.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2012


If you click on the names underneath the quilts you get a bit of their story. So sad.


Apparently since I gave birth back in the eighties maternal mortality has doubled. That was rather a shock.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:54 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maternal mortality in the United States: A human rights failure. (2011 review in the journal Contraception)
posted by gaspode at 2:10 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh wow. Poor Tameka and Danasia.

I need to stop reading these.
posted by Alison at 2:22 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My problem is that I've had a couple beers, and I read that three times over as The Safe Motherboard Quilt Project, and I don't even know what that would be.
posted by kbanas at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2012


Sorry, I do not think that this is just a project springing from the goodness of Gaskin's heart. I think this is an attempt to use sad stories of statistical outliers to make childbirth feel more dangerous than it is. Why would the leader of the U.S. homebirth movement want childbirth to seem even more dangerous? Here is why: One of the arguments against homebirth is that it's dangerous. Gaskin is attempting to defang this argument with stories of women who died anyway.

If childbirth seems dangerous no matter what, why not have a homebirth? Why not eschew medical professionals? Gaskin's very career is entirely built on the premise that medical professionals should not need to attend births.

I completely agree that the U.S. could do a lot better to care for both women and children—universal healthcare being an obvious start—but I do not think that Ina May Gaskin has any of the answers about how to do so, and I do not trust her to be agenda-free.
posted by purpleclover at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, forget her and think about why the birth statistics stink. I had two hospital births and one birth center birth and I know people who do homebirth, and all I care about is that women SURVIVE the birth.

As for statistical outliers? Read some of those stories and think about them. There have been a lot of changes in how childbirth is handled-a lot which is insurance company driven-that has not been in the best interest of anyone.

What excuse do we have that we seem to be going the other direction regarding the statistics?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:30 PM on October 6, 2012


My mom is in this quilt.

http://www.rememberthemothers.org/quilt?title=jill+heiman

That's me, there, too.
posted by festivemanb at 5:13 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


There have been a lot of changes in how childbirth is handled-a lot which is insurance company driven-that has not been in the best interest of anyone. What excuse do we have that we seem to be going the other direction regarding the statistics?

Well I don't know; do you? The project doesn't actually cover any solid data on what's going on, which lets anyone lay their own hypothesis over top of it, like yours about changes being "insurance company driven". I, like purpleclover, am suspicious of Ms. Gaskin's motives, although I don't think that takes away from the beauty of the stories of the women who passed, like festivemanb's mother (so sorry for your loss, dear).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:12 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have an agenda except thinking I would like to know why my daughters' generation has worse maternal mortality statistics than mine. As to Ms. Gaskins, I assume she is for natural birth, which as she is a midwife does not surprise me. I lean that way myself. But I think the quilt project is tasteful and puts its focus-rightly-on those women who lost their lives giving birth.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:22 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean really you just have to google "maternal mortality AND health care disparities" or even just "maternal mortality united states" and you will pull up a whole host of articles discussing the terrible rate of maternal mortality in the USA. Most of the scholarly articles have come out in the past few years, because obvs it takes a while to get the data nd analyze it.

Pretty much it comes down to no prenatal/postnatal care. Why is there not enough care? No health insurance. No universal coverage. That is the conclusion that non-political, medical-only researchers make again and again and again. It's not a very difficult conclusion to draw, really.
posted by gaspode at 6:34 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Gaspode, I have a question-when I went to that site and pulled up several of the names, over and over again I saw where a woman died during or right after an induction of birth. So I think you are right as far as it goes but perhaps it goes further than that?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:35 PM on October 6, 2012


I would be less suspicious of Gaskin's intentions if I didn't know that there have been attempts to get non-hospital maternal mortality squares included and they haven't been. At least, they haven't as far as I know - it may have changed recently.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:40 PM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Festivemanb,
This post must hit fairly close to the bone. My condolences for your past loss. Your mother was a beautiful young woman.


As someone who gave birth in the mid seventies and early eighties, I'm appalled that the level of care has gone so far downhill. My youngest daughter is pregnant with her second, and I will be uneasy until there is a healthy and happy outcome.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:32 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm sure it does, St. Alia. I certainly don't mean that that's the one and only explanation, but it's a big one.
posted by gaspode at 8:57 PM on October 6, 2012


Festivemanb, my deepest condolences.

The women who died:

.


Gaspode, I have a question-when I went to that site and pulled up several of the names, over and over again I saw where a woman died during or right after an induction of birth. So I think you are right as far as it goes but perhaps it goes further than that?

The thing is, if labour is induced, it almost certainly means there was some kind of problem to begin with. Most commonly, the baby was overdue to the point where there's a risk the placenta could start to fail or the mother was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. The former probably doesn't endanger the mother's life (though it does endanger the baby's, and it increases the risk of brain damage too), but the latter does.

I'm no fan of induction - or at least, I'm no fan of the way it's handled medically. I'm based in the UK, I had an induction, and I got such bad medical support that I ended up with severe postnatal depression: it's an unpredictable and very painful process and the suffering it causes is often underestimated by overworked professionals. I stand by my belief that it was right to get the baby out because he was two weeks overdue and the chances of brain damage were going up, but I will never consent to a process like that again. I cannot do it twice.

But the fact remains that induction takes places in situations where 'natural birth' simply isn't an option. Hence, comparing the death rates for induction and natural birth isn't going to mean very much: they're just totally different situations. It's like comparing the survival rates of broken legs and broken vertebrae.

And with the Ina May attitude: it's all very well to be 'in favour' of natural birth - heck, I am as well, by which I mean I would much rather have had one if it was possible, because natural birth is what you can have when there are no medical dangers. But sometimes that isn't an available option. Being in favour of it as in 'recognising that in an ideal world it's probably the best experience' is one thing, but midwives of the Ina May persuasion are often in favour of it ideologically - I speak from experience - which makes about as much sense as being in favour of men growing to six foot tall. The pro-natural birth movement can be disrespectful and inhumane to the have-nots of childbirth. They're much quicker than they realise to imply that a woman who had a bad experience must have had a bad attitude, which is just kicking a woman when she's down.

Some situations, yes, you probably get cases where birth is medicalised before it needs to be. It's a big world and many things happen in it. But being too broad about it does no good. My best friend recently lost her son, a full-term baby who died in utero. I don't yet know if he would have lived if they'd got him out quicker, but now he's dead and nothing can change that. Medical intervention might have saved him.

Childbirth is a brutal and dangerous business, and anyone who pretends otherwise isn't helping women or babies. And the natural birth mavens do not always remember that.

Increased maternal death rates are almost certainly linked to less care. That's a scandal, or it should be. But any one-size-fits-all approach to birth endangers mothers, including a preference for natural birth. What we need is to accept there are two kinds of birth and two kinds only: births where the patients' safety and wellbeing are properly cared for, and births where they aren't. That's all that matters.
posted by Kit W at 5:49 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


But any one-size-fits-all approach to birth endangers mothers, including a preference for natural birth. What we need is to accept there are two kinds of birth and two kinds only: births where the patients' safety and wellbeing are properly cared for, and births where they aren't. That's all that matters.


THIS.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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