The U.S. Maternal Health Crisis

IT'S TIME TO REVERSE THE TREND

The United States is one of few high-income countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are on the rise, and nearly 60% of these deaths are preventable. Leading causes of maternal death include excessive bleeding, high blood pressure, and blood clots. The rise in chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity is also contributing to pregnancy and childbirth complications. In addition, there are persistent and stark racial disparities in maternal mortality; a Black woman in the U.S. is three to four times more likely to die than a White woman. Given that most maternal deaths are preventable, we need to understand why women are dying to help save lives. Let’s work together to turn awareness into action, and help moms everywhere.


Five Steps You Can Take to Reverse the Rise in U.S. Maternal Deaths:

1. Find Out Why Maternal Deaths and Complications Occur: More than half of maternal deaths happen after childbirth during the postpartum period. Educate yourself, new parents and others in your community about the signs of a potential complication and how to advocate for yourself.

2. Learn About What Your State Is Doing: Not all states review maternal deaths but all should. Find out if your state has a maternal mortality review committee.

3. Raise Awareness: Whether in-person or on social media, start conversations about the U.S. maternal mortality crisis and ask others to take action. Click here to learn more and watch a short film “Reverse,” an emotional, generational passage based on real experiences of women across the U.S. on their journey to motherhood. Be sure to use #EndMaternalMortality.

4. Share Your Story and Time: If you’re a survivor or impacted family-member, get involved with advocacy groups, including the Preeclampsia Foundation, who are forming a national coalition of patient organizations and individuals to improve maternal health outcomes for all women. In Pennsylvania, volunteer at organizations like the Maternity Care Coalition.

5. Encourage Your Local Communities to Take Action:  The Merck for Mothers "Safer Childbirth Cities" initiative is supporting cities across the country to help women have a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. Encourage your local maternal health organizations to join efforts.

The PA Conference for Women would like to thank Merck for Mothers for their organization's leadership on this important topic, and for educating our conference community about the ways each of us can help solve the problem.To learn more, stop by the Merck booth (#1313) in the Exhibit Hall.

Comedian Maysoon Zayid Makes Disability Mainstream

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The first thing Maysoon Zayid said when she took to the stage at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women was: “I’m not drunk.” But, she quickly added, “the doctor who delivered me was.”

She went onto explain that she has cerebral palsy, which causes her to involuntarily shake all the time. But Zayid doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her. “I’ve got 99 problems, and palsy is just one,” she quips. Among her other problems, she explains: She is from New Jersey.

Zayid, who is developing a comedy series inspired by her life for ABC, is making disability mainstream. Currently, she told the audience of 12,000: People with disabilities are 20 percent of the population but only 2 percent of the images we see from Hollywood.

Speaking of the challenges of learning how to walk as a child, Zayid spoke about how her father helped her.

“My father had a mantra: ‘You can do it, yes you can can,’” she said. He had two methods to inspire her, she explained. “He placed my feet on his feet and walked; I walked miles on that man’s shoes. The second was to dangle a dollar bill and have me chase it. My inner stripper was so strong.”

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Amal Clooney Speaks about Today’s Defining Moment in Women’s Rights


Editor-in-chief of Glamour Samantha Barry with international human rights attorney Amal Clooney at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women

Amal Clooney, who has been called the “consummate feminist superhero,” usually speaks about human rights issues that women face in other countries. But at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the international human rights lawyer spoke at length about issues women are facing in America.

“In the United States, a woman is assaulted every nine seconds,” Clooney said. “For too long, predators have felt safe, and women have felt unsafe.” But, “we are living through a moment of reckoning and a rebalancing of power,” Clooney added. “Survivors deserve justice…. Women deserve to be believed and deserve to be respected.” Read More

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Amanda Southworth Calls Out Bystanders

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Sixteen-year-old app developer and activist Amanda Southworth took the stage at the 2018 Pennsylvania Conference for Women and captivated the room with a deeply personal story forged in the pain of her childhood anxiety and depression. With the backdrop of a national mental health crisis that affects 1 in 5 kids between the ages of 3 and 17, Southworth delivered this message: Suffering can be invisible, but it is not inevitable, and we can all do something about it.

“Action is not important,” she began, “it’s mandatory. The world will continue to hurt us until we join the effort to fix it—things won’t get better unless we make them. We have a responsibility not only as women but as people on this earth to do our best to improve things. If we have the ability to be fighting then we need to be—for the people that don’t have that ability.”

Recalling her years of victimization at the hands of bullies, Southworth recalls, “What hurt the worst was the people who saw what was happening and did nothing.” From the main stage of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, she issued a challenge. Read More

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Work Where You Win

By Ande Frazier, Head of Vision and Brand, myWorth

The traditional 9-to-5 just doesn’t work for a lot of people anymore, myself included. As a mother of two, the head of vision and brand at a startup, a speaker, writer and author, it’s nearly impossible for me to be sitting in an office all day. With traveling for work and getting my kids to wherever they need to go, I have to be able to work whenever, wherever. And I know I’m not the only one. Where we work, how we work and when we work is evolving, so we need to figure out how to make it work for us. Read More

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Mindfulness: The Secret to My Energy and Leadership in Stressful Times

Elizabeth A. Davenport, Scientific Leader Cell and Gene Therapy Cell Process Development, GlaxoSmithKline

The timing could not have been worse. I was starting a new job, only to discover I literally was sick and tired. I suddenly realized that my personal energy bank had been overdrawn over several preceding years. Serious illnesses and deaths of close family members, transition to an empty nest, increased work pressures and finally a career change had overtaken me and left me feeling drained. This was not the way I wanted to start my new job. Read More

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