Andrew recently learned about the untimely death of one of his co-workers: the mother of four young girls, one of whom was born a week or two before the woman’s death. While we are waiting to hear more about the cause of this mother’s death, I can only imagine that it may have been pregnancy or childbirth related.
In honor of this mother’s passing, I wanted to share with all of you information about midwife Ina May Gaskin’s Safe Motherhood Quilt Project.
From the project’s website:
“The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates, as well as to the gross under reporting of maternal deaths in the United States, and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982.
“Did you know…that the United States ranks behind at least 40 other nations in maternal mortality rates according to the World Health Organization. In 2004, the United States reported 15.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 7.5 per 100,000 in 1982.”
For each woman Ms. Gaskin learns about, who died as a complication or result of her pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum experience, a quilt square is created and added to the quilt. The hope is that, through bringing awareness to this issue, our medical system will look at the enormous disconnect between an industrialized nation with incredibly superior prenatal care, and one with a surprisingly high maternal/infant morbidity and mortality rate (when accurate numbers are surmised and considered) in comparison to other similar nations.
I had the opportunity to meet Ina May at a conference a few months ago, where she brought a portion of the in-progress quilt. Seeing those names and dates on the quilt squares is bone-chilling, as were the details Ms. Gaskin shared with us about so many of the U.S. women for whom she has sewn quilt squares.
The Safe Motherhood Quilt project is about honoring women who have died in or around the time of childbearing, and bringing to light the secretly high maternal death rate otherwise misrepresented by our country’s honor-system-only reporting structure.