Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My safe motherhood quilt

This caught my eye, because I am a quilter:

Ina May Gaskin started the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project to highlight maternal mortality. According to Ms. Gaskin, most maternal deaths are iatrogenic, but, of course, she is just making that up. Most maternal deaths are due to complications like pre-eclampsia, hemorrhage, ectopic pregnancy and abortion.

Gaskin copied the idea of the quilt from the AIDS Quilt, which was designed to raise awareness of AIDS, and to generate public pressure for research and prevention. There's a big difference between the two projects, though. The AIDS quilt was designed to raise awareness of a new disease. The Safe Motherhood Quilt is designed to raise awareness of maternal mortality, which has been so successfully reduced by modern medicine, that most people, Ms. Gaskin included, are unaware that it has always been an inherent risk of childbirth. That's why childbirth is and has always been dangerous; so many mothers and babies routinely died. Moreover, virtually all of obstetrics is designed to reduce this natural rate of maternal mortality, and obstetrics has been spectacularly successful in doing so.

The blocks for the Safe Motherhood Quilt must be 12" by 16". Currently, they have 84 blocks, for a combined area of 126 sqare feet. The quilt itself is apparently a virtual quilt. You can see the blocks on the website, but they have not been joined together.

I've decided to construct a virtual quilt of my own. My quilt will highlight the women whose lives have been saved each and every year because of advances in obstetrics. Modern obstetrics has dropped the maternal mortality rate 99% in the past 100 years. The baseline maternal mortality rate would predict approximately 40,000 maternal deaths per year in the US. Instead we have only 400-500. Therefore, my quilt will have 39,500 blocks. The total area will be 59,250 square feet or approximately 1.4 square ACRES. Keep in mind, that represents only the women saved in one year.

Ms. Gaskin represents herself as shocked at the current rate of maternal mortality. Perhaps that because she is unaware of the inherent dangers of childbirth. The Safe Motherhood Quilt is a publicity stunt. As far as I can tell, Ms. Gaskin herself, and direct entry midwives in general have done NOTHING (no research, no education, no fund raising and no outreach to victims' families) to reduce the incidence of maternal mortality. Apparently, maternal mortality is not the real issue; criticizing obstetrics (inappropriately and unfairly) is the real issue.


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