The joy of welcoming a new child into the world can quickly turn to overwhelming grief when a mother dies after childbirth. While pregnancy and labor and delivery come with risks, failure on the part of physicians and health care teams to provide adequate care all too often contributes to instances of maternal mortality. 

Staggering statistics

Pregnancy related deaths can occur during pregnancy, at the time of delivery or up to a year postpartum. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnancy-related complications cause approximately 700 deaths each year in the U.S.

Between 2011 and 2015, 31 percent of these deaths occurred during pregnancy, 36 percent happened during labor and delivery or shortly thereafter, and 33 percent occurred within one week to one year after giving birth. 

Causes of pregnancy-related mortality

According to a USA Today report, health conditions aggravated by pregnancy or childbirth and pregnancy-related complications commonly contribute to maternal mortality in the U.S.

Heart disease and stroke rank as the top causes of death for mothers during or after pregnancy. Other pregnancy-related deaths occur due to emergencies during the pregnancy, or during labor and delivery. This may include, for example, mothers hemorrhaging during delivery or suffering amniotic fluid embolisms. 

With the appropriate care, many pregnancy-related deaths can be prevented. Common issues that can lead to serious problems include:

  • Failing to recognize the warning signs of patient distress
  • Delaying a diagnosis
  • Missing a diagnosis
  • Inadequate response to an obstetric emergency

If you have questions about medical malpractice or maternal mortality, contact an experienced attorney.