One of the UN’s sustainable development goals is for there to be no more than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births across the globe by 2030. While the worldwide maternal mortality rate is falling, it is not falling quickly enough to meet that target.  Among the many factors leading to this slow rate of global change is the fact that fast-falling rate of maternal mortality in developing nations is being offset by shocking rises in some other countries – the United States being the prime example.

“Americans today are 50% more likely to die in childbirth than their own mother was.”


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These are the words of Dr Neel Shah, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Harvard’s Ariadne Labs.  His presentation on “Growing a Family with Dignity” at the International Maternity Expo in London laid out deeply worrying statistics concerning maternal mortality and caesarean rates both in the US and further afield – and his recommendations for better teamwork in the labour ward in order to realise “a vision that treats childbirth not as a transitional period in the lives of some people, but as the foundational episode in the lives of all people”.

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