Iíll admit Iím a bit of an Anglophile, and that I was anxiously awaiting the birth of the royal baby.
My interest in all things Windsor began, of course, with the lavish wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. I remember my mother allowing me to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the coverage on television, celebrating with tea, scones, and probably a tiara.
Somewhere in the archives of my parentsí basement is a couple of glossy photo books documenting the coupleís courtship and wedding, a fair number of Princess Diana dolls and some terrible photos of me with a ďPrincess DianaĒ haircut. So I, like many of you, was paying special attention to social media (and traditional media) as the day grew near.
What caught my attention long term, however, was buried between the layers of discussion on the Duchessís hair, her ďpost baby bumpĒ and her cute Jenny Packham frock. A number of news outlets and blogs used the birth of the royal baby to open a discussion on maternal health and mortality.
And while abortion and choice were making major headlines around the United States a week or so ago, there was also quite a conversation about the almost 15 percent (thatís 300,000) of all women worldwide who suffer life threatening complications from giving birth.
Maternal mortality isnít a third world or developing country issue. The United States is 50th in the world in maternal mortality, meaning 49 other countries do a better job of keeping new mothers healthy and alive than we do.
The maternal mortality rate in the United States has doubled in the past 25 years, while the expense of giving birth has skyrocketed nationally to 98 billion a year.
According to Every Mother Counts, there are a number of major barriers women face when looking for maternal care. A lack of emergency services poses one of the largest threats to maternal health, as women are vulnerable to sepsis, infection, and pregnancy complications from high blood pressure. Coupled with a lack of care during childbirth, many women face a disruption of care after birth. According to the World Health Organization, half of all maternal deaths take place in the first 48 hours after delivery.
Women also face a lack of quality care during birth. In rural areas and developing countries, skilled and trained attendants and practitioners may be hard to find. While the gossip magazines may be discussing whether or not the Duchess had a hynpo-birth, and mothers locally debate the pros and cons of epidurals, many expectant mothers are facing childbirth without any medical options.
Organizations like Every Mother Counts and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundationís Maternal and Neonatal Health Initiative are dedicated to reducing the number of maternal deaths worldwide through education, outreach, and strengthening existing systems and policies. Additional challenges to maternal health include a lack of access to adequate family planning resources.
Locally, organizations like the March of Dimes are committed to helping mothers deliver healthy, full term babies. Programs funded by the health department, including Every Woman Florida, Healthy Start and Mom Care, are working toward increased maternal health right here at home.
Since I am tangentially writing about birthdays, Iíd be remiss if I didnít wish a happy belated birthday to my mom, who turned 60-something last week. A labor and delivery nurse for 40 years, I know she was instrumental in the healthy delivery of countless babies and her commitment to womenís health continues in her retirement, especially if it concerns her daughters and grandchildren.
Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.