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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Maternity Care in the United States Sucks

Today I am 5 weeks and 5 days along. Last week I experienced some nausea, but it's completely gone now. I know it is still early and the morning sickness can kick in later. Surprisingly, feeling fine makes me nervous. I am afraid something is not right. I guess I just can't be pleased (at least when pregnant). It is also unbelievable for me to imagine a pregnancy can be like this. Easy. It's unreal. It makes me realize that women whose pregnancies are easy can't even begin to imagine how miserable the hard ones can be, and I feel almost guilty for being mad at them for the lack of understanding. Of course they can't relate. I couldn't, if my first pregnancy was like this. 

My boobs are growing successfully. I think it's safe to say they are a decent B cup size now. They also hurt a lot when I run. I have to double bra them, which makes them disappear, which is OK because I am not vain when I run anymore. I used to be and would wear shoes that were too small. It's recommended to buy at least one size up when shopping for running shoes. My regular shoe size is 10. I refused to wear shoes size 11. I mean - 10 is bad enough for a girl. Then I started training for a half marathon, lost my toenail and decided vanity is useless in sports.

I am tired and sleepy to an extent I am afraid to nod off while I am jogging. I don't remember being this exhausted with Kai. Comparing to the misery of my first pregnancy, it doesn't bother me too much. 

I scheduled my first doctor's appointment. I will be 8 weeks pregnant then. It's funny, because I remember being upset and disturbed that my doctor in Salt Lake City wouldn't see me until I was 6 weeks along. Now I feel like 8 weeks is unnecessarily early. I suppose it has a lot to do with our health insurance situation. I am considering if I can get out of ultrasounds, because I don't want to go broke over it. While there is nothing I would want more then seeing the little munchkin. My sister, who lives in Germany, got an ultrasound with every one of her visits, with no charge at all. Her health insurance covered everything. 

Coming from Europe, I don't think I can ever get used to the US system. It's hard when I see how little women in the US get. It's hard to see that they consider it normal. I feel like there should be a revolution with pregnant women filling the streets and smashing windows and such. People back home did not understand why I worked when I was so sick with Kai. My Mom kept telling me: "Why don't you go to the doctor and get a paper?" I would tell her: "Mom, and what am I going to do with the paper from the doctor? Who am I going to show it to? If I don't come to work, I don't get any money and they are not obligated to keep my spot." "But that's impossible," my Mom would say. "How are you supposed to survive?"

My sister's care included a nurse that would come check on her regularly for the first couple of months after giving birth. She would massage her stomach, help her with breastfeeding and monitor her health - both physical and emotional. "What do you mean nobody comes to see you?", she struggled with the concept. 

There is a lot of "what do you mean?" questions. I consider myself to be realistic enough to accept the situation. Living in the US was my choice. Some things work better and some things work worse. Maternity care in the US is definitely lacking. There is a good chance you live in a state that does not require your insurer to cover maternity care. Did you know that statistics released in September of 2010 by the United Nations place the United States 50th in the world for maternal mortality — with maternal mortality ratios higher than almost all European countries, as well as several countries in Asia and the Middle East? Based on this list, (yes, I was also surprised CIA offers this kind of information) the United States have higher maternal mortality rates than countries like Estonia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Kuwait or Puerto Rico. Given that at least half of maternal deaths in the United States are preventable, this is not just a matter of public health, but a human rights failure. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “every human being has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including medical care and necessary social services”.

This is why I think people (men included) in the US should riot to get better care for women. I don't intend to get political on this blog. Instead, I will leave you with what I consider a non-political smart article to ponder over.


  1. I'm really glad you wrote this, I think the problem is most American women simply don't know there is something better out there when it comes to medical care, for maternity and preventative care. my husband is European and he is surprised that I work with a woman who is 9 months pregnant and still working. I would love to take to the streets for better care but I'm afraid it would only be me and three other women. I shared this on my Fb to raise awareness...there is something better out there.

    1. Thanks Jessica! For your comment and for sharing. I like many things about United States. After all, it was my choice to live here. But there are two things that bother me a lot (especially now, having a child that will be growing up here).

      One is that many Americans simply believe that this country is the best and everything that this country does is the best, without ever asking questions or searching for the facts and information. That is dangerously close to brain washing.

      The second thing is the fact that so many people here consider it fair that poor people, people of different color and minorities don't deserve the same level of care as rich white people. I really hope that will change with the next generations.

      Again - thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi, I am a Brit, pregnant living in the States and I couldn't agree more with what you have to say about maternity care in the USA. Even with insurance it is very complicated and convoluted. My folks back home keep pleading with me to quit my job and move back to the UK, right now this seems very enticing. It get's even more complicated when you are trying to work out if your newborn is covered by your or your spouses health insurance. I also wish that people in the USA were less brainwashed and more educated, the shortcomings of US healthcare are extraordinary and the sooner people see this the better! I almost feel sorry for people here, accepting a system based on money and politics and not health.

    1. Hi Saima - first of all congrats on your pregnancy!
      Yes, it is mind blowing, the US healthcare system, isn't it? And so confusing! I just got a bill for $600 and when I phoned the office to ask what exactly was it for, they said it was a mistake and to disregard it. I highly doubt I would get the money back if I paid without questioning, and most of the medical bills I don't question. I read that Kate Middleton's birth in private suit was $15,000, while the cost of average delivery in the US is $30,000.
      The whole system is completely broken and the health of people, which in theory we all agree is the most important thing, does not matter at all. Before moving to the US, I never questioned whether the trip to the doctor is absolutely necessary. Now I'd rather take a risk and "ride it out" when sick than going and raking the bills.