Maternal Health: Supporting The Next Generation of Healthy Mothers

Maternal health is improving in many parts of the world. The health of a woman is vital for both the development of her child and the country as a whole. Every year, around the world, over 600,000 women die because of childbirth. Since 1990, these maternal deaths have been reduced by 44%. 

However, despite the efforts of countries and organizations that aimed to prevent these deaths, the number has increased in recent years. Maternal health is primarily influenced by several factors such as poverty and limited access to health services and assistance from skilled caregivers. As a result, maternal health remains a major concern around the world. So, if you’re looking for information on maternal health, this should be your starting point.

What is Maternal Health?

Maternal health refers to a woman’s health during childbirth, and the postpartum period. In order to decrease maternal and infant mortality, it incorporates the health care elements of family planning, preconception, and prenatal and postnatal care.

Prior to pregnancy, a woman’s health is crucial to the health of her infant baby. Maternal health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the health of women during pregnancy, delivery, and the puerperium.

“It integrates the health care aspects of preconception, family planning, prenatal, and postpartum care to prevent mother morbidity and death.”

Maternal Health and Its Importance

Regardless of where a woman lives or what her socioeconomic status may be, good maternal health is fundamental to her own well-being as well as that of her baby. 

The best way to ensure good maternal health is through education and comprehensive healthcare. In addition to prenatal care, there is a need for family planning services so women can make informed decisions about their pregnancies.

Maternal deaths are still a significant problem worldwide despite significant improvements in the last 20 years. In 2015, approximately 303,000 women died due to pregnancy or delivery problems. Developing nations account for nearly all maternal mortality. The likelihood that a woman will die from maternal causes in her lifetime is one in 3,700 in developed regions compared to one in 90 in developing regions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least two-thirds of these deaths could be prevented with increased access to effective family planning, prenatal care, and obstetric services, including skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care.

Why does maternal mortality matter?

The maternal mortality rate is a key indicator of family health and women’s status in a country. It reflects the quality of health care in a country, as well as the social and economic conditions that influence women’s lives. In the U. S., a woman’s rate of death from childbirth causes is 1 in 1,800. In sub-Saharan Africa, the chances are 1 in 39.

The lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes for an adolescent girl in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 16, compared with 1 in 2,200 for her counterpart in North America and Western Europe.

In some countries, maternal mortality is actually on the rise – even though it should be falling along with fertility rates and other development indicators. The reasons for this are complex but include factors such as poverty and inequality between men and women.

What are the key issues that impact maternal health?

The key issues that impact maternal health are:

1. Access to quality, affordable health care, and services throughout a woman’s life.

2. Gender inequality, restricts women’s decision-making power regarding their health and limits opportunities for education and employment.

3. Poverty, which is linked to poor health due to lack of access to education and services, poor nutrition, and living in unsafe environments.

On a worldwide scale, how does the United States fare?

The US is ranked 49th in the world for maternal health, according to the State of the World’s Mothers report.

Mothers in the US are also more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than those in almost all other developed countries.

The rate of maternal deaths during childbirth is on the rise, and American women face a 1 in 1,800 chance of maternal death in a given year more than double the risk facing Canadian mothers, and 10 times that of Scandinavian moms.

What factors contribute to poor maternal health?

Unsafe abortion: The US has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in developed countries. In 2011, congressional Republicans attempted to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, a trusted source of reproductive services for many low-income women. Constraints on contraception and abortion may keep women in danger by pushing them to endure unintended pregnancies or turn to risky solutions.

Teen pregnancy: Sexual education programs have been shown to reduce teen pregnancy rates. But despite evidence that comprehensive sex education is effective in lowering teen pregnancy rates and increasing condom use, abstinence-only education remains common in some parts of the country.

Racial bias: Black women are nearly four times as likely as white women to die from complications related to childbirth or pregnancy. Experts believe these disparities in maternal health are tied to a larger issue: racial bias in the medical community, which is leading to inappropriate care and a lack of resources for Black women.

How can you support maternal health programs?

Maternal health is a key priority within a  Health Program. A woman’s death in childbirth is one of the most preventable tragedies, and yet every minute a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. For Maternal health, a lot of health program is arranged to concern women for their individuality and health care. 

The worldwide rate of maternal death has dropped by almost half since 1990, but more than 830 women still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Over a third of all who die are from Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly a third are from South Asia.

You can work with partners to improve care for women during childbirth and their newborns, both through better access to essential services and by making sure that the care they receive is of high quality. 

For example, you may improve the availability of life-saving medicines, train health care workers, develop mobile apps for cancer screening, and help women around the world save money so they can afford care when they need it.

How To Improve Maternal Health

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women die each day due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. While this figure is slowly decreasing, it is still a statistic that needs to be addressed. 

The most common reasons for maternal death are excessive bleeding (postpartum hemorrhage), hypertensive disorders, infection, and obstructed labor. Here are some of the ways in which you can help improve maternal health:

Improve access to contraception  

A recent report by the Guttmacher Institute found that providing greater access to contraception can reduce unintended pregnancies by up to 74%. This would also help reduce the number of unsafe abortions performed.

Provide more funding 

One of the main reasons why maternal health hasn’t improved is because of a lack of funding. Insufficient funds mean there is less money available for research into new drugs or treatments that could save lives.

Increase education 

Improving education about sexual health for both men and women will help reduce unwanted pregnancies. It will also mean that women are aware of their reproductive rights and know-how to access services like contraception, safe abortion, antenatal care, and emergency obstetric care.

Reduce gender inequality

Gender equality is key when it comes to improving maternal health. Women who are empowered to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives, and have access to the same resources educational, financial, and otherwise as men, are far more likely to seek out health services and give birth safely.

Improve family planning

Access to contraception is a crucial part of helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, but it’s also important that they be able to decide if and when they want to start a family. Investing in programs that support women’s reproductive health allows them to make those decisions freely.

Invest in community-based care

Bringing healthcare into communities yields some of the best results for maternal health. Not only does it ensure that women get regular checkups throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period, but it also helps detect pre-existing conditions that might put a woman at risk during childbirth.

Empowering mothers to advocate for themselves

Despite the significant advances made in maternal health and increased attention on the issue, 800 women continue to die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 

The majority of these deaths occur in low-resource settings and could be prevented if mothers were able to make informed choices about their care, access quality services when they need them and get support from qualified health workers.

However, as is often the case with marginalized groups, women face multiple barriers that keep them from getting the healthcare they need. These include a lack of information about their rights or where to go for services, an inability to afford them, or a lack of transportation. Too often, family members or community members play a role in deciding their care.

Additionally, many women do not have the confidence or communication skills needed to advocate for themselves. As such, they are more likely to encounter misguided healthcare workers who do not treat them as equals or provide them with proper care.

Self-care during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of great personal change, and it can be a time of great stress as well. For many women, pregnancy represents the first time they have had to make changes in their lifestyle as part of a health program.

Here are some ideas for self-care during pregnancy:

Eat a healthy diet. It’s critical to consume adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins, particularly iron and folic acid. A prenatal vitamin can help you meet these needs if your diet is lacking.

Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise can improve your mood and help you sleep better. Staying active can also make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and to lose weight after giving birth.

Get plenty of rest. Sleep is essential for mental and physical well-being. If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, try relaxation techniques or talk with your health care provider about what might be causing your sleeplessness.

Talk about your feelings. Sharing your emotions with others can be an important way to cope with stress. Talk about what you’re feeling with supportive friends or family members or join a support group where you can share your thoughts with others who are experiencing similar changes in their lives.

Working together to improve maternal health postpartum

Although pregnancy is one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, it also puts a great deal of physical and emotional stress on her body. During this time, it’s critical that women have access to good health care, both during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

In some regions of the world, maternal and infant mortality rates are high due to inadequate nutrition, lack of access to clean water, poor hygiene practices, and limited access to health facilities during pregnancy and childbirth.

While challenges remain, many organizations around the world are working hard to improve maternal health.

Postpartum care is an area where nurses can make a significant difference in maternal and child health. Giving birth can be an overwhelming experience for new mothers. They need support during this challenging time to help them cope physically, emotionally, and socially. For example:

Teaching new mothers about proper breastfeeding techniques can help prevent dehydration in newborns.

Teaching new moms how to give their babies adequate nutrition can prevent malnutrition in infants.

Teaching new moms how to properly bathe their children can prevent diseases from spreading from one child to another through bathing water.

Bottom Lines

Maternal health is a critical component of overall global health. That’s why it’s so important to learn the contributing factors to maternal death, both in developed countries and in developing ones. Maternal health is an essential human right, and it’s one that’s long overdue in many parts of the world. The good news is that there are already effective measures that can be taken to improve maternal health worldwide.

Manuel Santibenez
Manuel Santibenez is the Editor and Publisher of Daily Gist Hub. A native of Kwara state and a Christian by faith. He bagged his Diploma Certificate in Public Administration at the Ogun State Institute Of Technology Igbesa. His networth is estimated around $50k
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