In the last two decades, the US has seen a rise in the number of women dying from childbirth, an opposing trend from the majority of other countries in the developed and developing world who have seen their numbers decline.

While the US has not released an official rate since 2007, a recent study reports that the number of maternal deaths, defined as occurring during pregnancy or within 42 days of birth, has increased from 19 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 24 per 100,000 in 2014, an increase of over 25%. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that a majority of these deaths are preventable.

As a response to this trend, concerned medical professionals in California formed the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) in hopes of preventing maternal deaths. The CMQCC first gathered data to determine the most common causes of maternal death, which informed the development of training programs and guidelines attempting to address those causes.

One of the leading causes of maternal death found in the CMQCC's research was hemorrhage, which led them to develop a program to help doctors decrease the number of medically unnecessary C-sections they perform. C-sections can sometimes lead to hemorrhage, especially in mothers who have undergone the procedure before. Aspects of this program include step-by-step guidelines on how to prepare for and directly treat hemorrhage as well as how to effectively measure blood-loss.

CMQCC programs, like the one addressing hemorrhage, have been implemented across the state, garnering impressive results. As a result of these efforts, the maternal death rate in California was cut in half between 2006 and 2013, falling to 7.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, a third of the nation-wide rate reported the next year. These results are even evident in underserved areas of the state that see the women most vulnerable to maternal death.

To read more about the maternal death rate in California and the US, explore the references below:

About the author: 
Madison Lyleroehr earned her M.A. degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, where she focused on Sociology and qualitative research methods. She is currently a Research Study Coordinator in the Feinberg School of Medicine's department of Medical Social Sciences where she oversees studies focused primarily on patient-reported outcomes. Her passion for women's health has driven her various volunteer and advocacy efforts, addressing issues in reproductive health, sexual health and education, and sexual violence prevention.