- The maternal death rate in the US is 21/100,000, on par with Iran and Hungary. 47 others, such as Estonia, Bosnia, Lithuania, and Poland, do significantly better than the US. 1
- The infant death rate in the US is 6.17/1000. This ranks the US 169th out of 224 countries. Your baby has a better survival rate in Bermuda (2.48/1000) – and 54 other countries. 2
- Preterm birth rates among African Americans (17.1%) are on par with the worst rates in the world. Among Non-Hispanic Whites (10.8%), we rank alongside the preterm birth rate in the Dominican Republic. 3
- 10-15% of mothers have postpartum depression. 4
- Paternal postnatal depression (depressed dads) is on the rise. 5
- 37% of women report that a physical health concern interfered with their ability to care for their baby during the first two months. 29% report that emotional health concerns interfered. 6
- 2/3rds of couples report a decrease in martial satisfaction after starting a family. 7
And millions of mothers and fathers are bumping along free from these conditions, but feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and less happy than before they had children. Too many women describe their births as a bad experience. The standard United States birth outcomes don’t support a strong start to growing families.
Prepare to Overcome Typical United States Birth Outcomes
The numbers don’t incite pride – in fact, they are proof that something is sorely amiss. It’s not my aim in this particular article to figure out why or place blame. My aim is simply to let you, likely a pregnant woman, know that the status quo in our country is not good enough. And that there is a lot you can do to give yourself and your baby better odds (without leaving the country).
Find quality sources of information.
Seek out truly high quality books, videos, and people. Pop maternity culture is filled with information in a vacuum of insight. This information will pacify your drive to become informed and may prevent surprises, but it is largely an orientation to the standard of care rather than material that helps you understand how to have a better, healthier experience. For example, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is by leaps and bounds the best-selling pregnancy book. It totally explains everything you are likely to hear and experience while being pregnant in America – the standard United States birth outcomes. But it really doesn’t do anything to help you understand the impact of your choices or how to create a positive family foundation.
Read my reviews of the top 35 best-selling pregnancy books to gain more insight into how status quo books result in status quo outcomes. Made-for-TV birth stories are not an adequate replacement for quality childbirth education. Don’t settle for pop culture awareness in a culture where popular outcomes are not what you want for yourself.
Choose your care provider carefully.
Spend time choosing a great midwife or doctor. Change care if you aren’t with a good provider even if you do feel like it’s too late in your pregnancy.
Take care of yourself.
Focus on the postpartum period and your family life.
Plan well for the first few weeks after your baby arrives. Put holistic health (mental, physical, spiritual, relational) and attachment above all else. Understand how birth can have a big impact on your life, and consciously choose what impact you will let it have on yours.
Envision your own birth outcome.
Don’t settle for the picture of birth handed to you by the media. Typical United States birth outcomes are likely not what you might choose. Decide what you want for you and your family and plan for it. These steps will make a huge difference. I guarantee it.