For many people, the primal desire to continue their bloodline by having children starts early, perhaps before they really understand what raising a child is like. Though having kids isn’t for everyone, some people know at a young age that they want to be a parent some day. Still, many parents don’t start thinking seriously about what it takes to raise a baby until they are ready to start planning.
However, the truth is that the factors that can influence a pregnancy and the resulting child start years before parents start planning to conceive. These factors can include what harmful chemicals the parents are exposed to, chronic medical conditions like diabetes, and physical conditions such as age.
Those factors that affect having a baby can make the cost of pregnancy and birth astronomical, but even worse is the emotional cost. Despite modern medicine, the mortality rate of women in childbirth in the United States is the worst of the industrialized world. Additionally, there are other complications that are particularly common in the U.S. that are not so common in other countries.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infertility is caused when there is a problem with one or more of the steps needed for pregnancy. Though infertility can come down to genetics, there are also many ways outside factors influence infertility. One documentary, The Human Experiment, explores how household chemicals, including those found in cleaners and beauty products, can be partly to blame for infertility.
Additionally, some people think that birth control can negatively affect fertility, but most women can get pregnant after getting off birth control. Certain types of birth control, like the Depo-Provera, can influence fertility for up to a year or more after stopping the treatment.
Though some experts have expressed doubt that these chemicals would have such an impact, others are adamant that they have had a negative impact. Either way, infertility rates in the U.S. have continued to drop since the film’s release in 2013, and today, one in six couples face problems with fertility.
Once a woman is pregnant, there can still be many complications with pregnancy that can incur additional medical and health costs. According to health care experts, some of these pregnancy complications can happen due to preexisting medical conditions, but others occur without a specific cause. These complications include:
- Group B Strep (25 percent)
- Miscarriages (20 percent)
- Having Rh Negative blood type(15 percent)
- Preeclampsia (5 percent)
Other complications that may or may not cause harm to either the mother or the baby include fevers, anemia, vaginal bleeding, urinary tract infections, yeast or bacterial infections, and STDs.
Unhealthy Birthing Practices
A documentary named “The Business of Being Born” outlines an unhealthy birthing system in U.S. hospitals caused by monetized healthcare. When a woman goes to the hospital in labor, the hospital wants to get her out and the next person in as soon as possible. Since some women are in labor for days, hospitals try to speed up the process.
If a woman takes too long to make progress, they are given pitocin, a drug that induces labor. Pitocin, however, causes extreme contractions that are hard for laboring mothers to handle. To relieve pain, mothers are then given epidurals that numb the mother and delay birth. This can turn into a cycle until doctors decide that it is time for a c-section, even if the mother didn’t want to deliver that way.
This practice has led to the rise of birthing centers in the U.S., which are up 57 percent since 2010. Birthing centers are essentially a cross between hospitals and home births, allowing for women to have an empowering birthing experience in which they have more control over the process and are not rushed.
Once a mother has given birth, they enter a new realm of challenges. Caring for a newborn baby is a difficult challenge for parents, but mothers who face postpartum depression (PPD) can especially struggle to the adjustment. According to Postpartum Depression Progress, just under one million women in the US report to be affected by PPD.
PPD can take form in a number of ways for different mothers. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of appetite and sleep
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Irritation or anger or rage
- Withdrawal from interacting with others
- Sadness and crying
- The constant feeling of being overwhelmed
- Possible thoughts of harming oneself or running away and escaping.
In addition to PPD, women in the U.S. can often feel isolated after delivering their babies. Other countries have standard practices for postnatal care, which can range from family help to at-home nurses. This care often helps mothers spend more time with their baby, reduces stress, and can help mothers get used to breastfeeding and other parenting practices.
A recent report by NPR brings to light the scary reality that the U.S. has the worst mortality rate in the industrialized world. The article states, “American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period” and “six times as likely to die as Scandinavians.” Furthermore, the article cites a medical journal that states that in Britain, “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.”
The article also discusses that within the U.S. population, maternal mortality is even more common among African-American women and low-income women, but that no group of women is exempt from the danger.
In order to combat these unacceptable costs of pregnancy and childbirth, women’s health nurse practitioners are essential. The U.S. needs to take a more careful look at the care it’s providing for women, and health professionals need to be proficient in understanding women’s bodies and their needs. There is no reason the U.S. should be paying such high costs to have children.