The deadly side of childbirth; why are more new mothers dying?


Medical advancements have made injuries easier to fix. Diagnosis have gone from a death sentence to hope. So why are more new mothers dying during childbirth?

WINK News Anchor Lindsey Sablan investigated the concerning trend and what hospitals are doing to make sure moms can take their babies home.

Mom, Bareket Dalton-Drori, did get to bring her babies home.

Now, she listens to soft coos and music as she and her husband Tim settle into parenthood.

“They look at you. They see you for the first time and they’re just thrilled to be awake and see their dad. And that’s a really cool feeling,” said Tim with a smile.

The new parents’ hearts are full, but the journey here was not an easy one. Bareket’s water broke when she was 33 weeks and what happened next was life or death.

“We were heading out to the hospital. I went to the bathroom one more time,” she recalled. “And I started feeling like something was starting to come out. The last thing I remember before everything goes dark is about 10 people hovering over me just trying to prep me for the C-section.

“We get to the check-in room in the hospital, and instantly. Nurse checks my wife and she sees a cord and she just yells cord. And next thing you know, there’s 10 nurses in the room,” said Tim.

What Bareket experienced is called umbilical cord prolapse (UCP).

“That cord can become compressed enough that it does severely restrict the oxygen to the baby,” explained Dr. Anne Rainville, part of the OB/GYN Hospitalist Team with NCH.

How long do you have before a situation can turn deadly? Lindsey Sablan asks Dr. Rainville

“It can vary anywhere from as little as four-to-five minutes to maybe eight minutes,” answered Rainville.

From the time Bareket arrived at the hospital until her twins were out – 12 minutes.

“We were very fortunate that things ended up that way,” expressed Rainville.

NCH is refocused on women and children’s care because there is a concerning increase in the number of women dying during childbirth.

“More maternal morbidity, specifically postpartum hemorrhage, and hypertensive disorders,” explained the OB/GYN.

pregnant women

You see that incline from 2018 to 2021 separated by ages in the chart above from the CDC. The highest jump is for 40 and over. But what has OB’s really worried is how we compare to other developed nations.

Numbers released in 2020-out of every 100,000 births:

  • 21 moms in the U.S. died
  • 11 moms in Canada died
  • 4 moms in Japan died
  • 4 moms in Germany died

Our numbers are on the same scale as countries with far less resources. The next question– why?

“Higher number of pregnancies are now high risk,” offered Rainville. “The other problem is what we’re now calling maternal, you know, kind of maternal deserts.”

Collier County isn’t a maternal desert, but 40% of the pregnant women NCH sees are high-risk. That’s a 25% jump in 20 years.

“Non-Hispanic black population is at the highest risk,” Rainville added.

At NCH, there’s now an OB on hand at their delivery hospital at all times, so they can respond quickly to the surgery room if there is an emergency.

Those 12 minutes were everything for this family. Not only is mom okay, after a relatively short stint in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), these four-month-old twins are doing great.

They gave us two beautiful, healthy girls to take home. Bareket Dalton-Drori, Mom

“I get emotional thinking about it, because they did such an amazing job,” said the thankful mother.

Having the NICU at the same hospital was critical for Bareket because she could see her girls as she recovered. There are also cameras attached to the beds so even when parents leave, they can watch their newborns.

Pre-mature birth rates are also on the rise in the U.S. Each year, NCH’s NICU takes care of 550 babies.

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