Medical and surgical remedies in the last century has gradually mitigated the harm due to the complications inherent in pregnancy and delivery but many Asian countries are unable to stem the tide of this. Every day, thousands of women die from pregnancy and childbirth in Asia and the Pacific. 75% of these deaths are from complications directly associated with the process of pregnancy and childbirth, i.e. direct maternal death, such as from bleeding, hypertension-with-convulsion, infection, and unsafe abortion.
In many countries, the standard of maternal care is to screen pregnant women for risks attributed to certain factors, mainly their age, the number and order of the pregnancy, the time interval with preceding pregnancy, the baby’s position in the womb and others. Risks are predicted for women deemed ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ or have had ‘too many pregnancies’ or are having their ‘first pregnancy’, or had ‘too short intervals’ between pregnancies.
‘High risk’ pregnancies are referred for management by professional providers – e.g. nurse, doctor or midwife – or in health facilities. Those viewed to be ‘low risk’ or ‘without ‘risk’ are relegated to non-professional attendants, such as traditional birth attendants (TBAs) or delivery outside health facilities. Many of the women who die are poor, from minority groups, not well educated, and unable to fight for their own survival.