childbirth mortality

How To Make Childbirth Safer (Not By Spending More Money)

Baby being delivered by cesarean, Martin Valigursky /

Baby being delivered by cesarean, Martin Valigursky /

"American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World" 

That's the headline of an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal in yesterday's New York Times. The article includes a chart comparing childbirth costs in seven countries. In the United States, the average amount paid for a conventional delivery in 2012 was $9,775; for a Caesarean section, it was $15,041. Those are the highest prices for childbirth anywhere in the world.

To get an idea of just how high, I made a chart using the figures in the NYT chart. Childbirth costs in the other six countries range from 21 percent to 43 percent of U.S. costs even though American women typically spend far less time in hospital.

South Africa is so dangerous for childbirth that its graph line would not fit on this blog page. For every 1,000 births, there are 56 infant deaths. For every 100,000 births, there are 400 maternal deaths. [Chart by L. Neff; data from WHO]


When a Mother Bleeds to Death, a Nation Bleeds

Ugandan woman photo, Nigel Pavitt / Getty Images

Ugandan woman photo, Nigel Pavitt / Getty Images

Stories like this one remind me that listening to women’s voices can be a matter of life and death, and not in the whole “Adam-listened-to-Eve” type of way.

Impassioned women of all ages are petitioning Uganda’s highest court to declare that “when women die in childbirth it is a violation of their rights.” So far, their bids in the lower courts have been unsuccessful, but they’re pressing on.

$60 million. 

That’s what it would take to hire enough medical workers to meet Uganda’s needs—specifically, to staff village health clinics that lack people and supplies to the degree that an estimated 16 pregnant women die needlessly each day.