Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Safe Motherhood Quilt to be Displayed and Presented in Sarasota in October

Three panels of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project will be on display in the atrium of the Selby Public Library during the last week of October. The Safe Motherhood Quilt is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates in the United States, as well as to the gross underreporting of maternal deaths. The Quilt is made up of individually designed squares. Each one is devoted to a woman in the US who died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982, the year after which no improvement has been made in American maternal mortality. The panels on display will include sixty squares; more than three hundred that have been made for the project to date. Ina May Gaskin, the project’s originator, will present the three panels in the Geldbart Auditorium of the Selby Public Library on Saturday, October 31st at 11:00 am.

“In order to reduce the rising U.S. maternal death rate, we're first going to have to put together a national structure for ascertaining, counting and analyzing every single maternal death,” says Ina May Gaskin, CPM, originator of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. “I know of no other wealthy country with a more underfunded, haphazard, secretive, and flawed way of reporting maternal deaths than ours has right now. How can we discuss health care reform and ignore this issue?”

In 2005, the United States reported 15.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 7.5 per 100,000 in 1982. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks lower than at least 34 other nations in maternal mortality. Many maternal deaths are closely related to caesarean sections—bowel obstruction, anesthesia accident, pulmonary embolism, cut uterine arteries, placental abnormalities, ectopic pregnancy, and post-surgical infection. Some causes of maternal mortality, such as toxemia, amniotic fluid embolism, hemorrhage, heart attack and uterine rupture are not related to cesarean section. Only 21 states include a question on the death certificate asking if the deceased woman had been pregnant in the weeks or months before her death. The U.S. maternal death rate is actually 1.3 to 3 times more than what is reported in vital statistics records, due to under-reporting of such deaths (estimate by Centers for Disease Control, 1998).

The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is the vision of Ina May Gaskin, midwifery pioneer and author of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and the classic Spiritual Midwifery, who has been instrumental in bringing this issue to the public light. Ina May Gaskin is internationally recognized as the mother of modern midwifery, and has been credited with the re-emergence of direct-entry midwifery in the United States since the early 1970's. Ms. Gaskin is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, founded in 1971 and located near Summertown, Tennessee. By 1996, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled more than 2200 births, with remarkably good outcomes, noted for low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births.

In addition to presenting the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, Ms. Gaskin will be participating in the panel discussion Maternal Health Care in the 21st Century: Sarasota and Beyond, a progrom sponsored by the Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM), and the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW), to be held at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on November 1st at 3:00 pm.

For more information about these events, please contact Laura Gilkey at laura@kangaroopromotions.net / (941) 915-8115. For more information about the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, please visit www.rememberthemothers.org.

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