While it is no surprise to come across shocking news every day, from every part of the globe, thanks to worldwide web, I recently came across a piece of news that left me feeling especially sickened.
A review of maternal deaths across Maharashtra in 2015-16 showed that pregnant women with pre-existing hypertension or diabetes are most prone to eclampsia (blood pressure-induced convulsions), a condition that has emerged as a common cause for maternal deaths in the last few years. Out of 1,333 maternal deaths that were reported in Maharashtra alone, eclampsia was responsible for 24.8 per cent of the total deaths, followed by haemorrhage (excessive bleeding) at 18.5 per cent, and sepsis, the cause of 13.2 per cent of these deaths.
On World Hypertension Day, Dr. Leena N Sreedhar, Consultant, OBG & Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle says, “Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are a major cause of maternal, foetal, and neonatal morbidity, and mortality. The foetus has an increased risk of intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity, and intrauterine death. Management of the condition depends on the mother’s blood pressure, gestational age, and blood flow in the placenta. Non-pharmacological management is recommended for many women, but is not recommended when there is the presence of associated maternal and foetal risk factors”.
I became a mother recently, and resonate deeply with the need for better education on maternal health. My heart aches every time I am brought face-to-face with the dismal state of healthcare in our country for young mothers. A large percentage of expectant mothers in India fail to access even the little facilities available, courtesy illiteracy and ignorance.
As per the same review study, 17 per cent of the 1,333 expectant mothers who died were illiterate, and over 40 per cent had not studied beyond class 8. Educating such women about ante-natal care still remains the primary challenge, officials conceded. The maternal deaths’ review also found that 58 per cent of those who died lived below the poverty line. Shockingly, out of 21.8 lakh pregnant women in Maharashtra in 2015-2016, at least 74 per cent (16.1 lakh) had anaemia or a poor haemoglobin count, according to the Health Management Information System.
The state of the rest of the country is only conceivable. The question remains, what can we do in our power to ensure a healthy pregnancy? If you are planning to start a family in the near future, or know anyone who is, make note of these things:
1. Maintain a healthy weight: If you are carrying extra weight, losing a little weight can help prevent high blood pressure.
2. Eat a balanced diet: Get plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in potassium (like bamboo shoot, beans, spinach, apricot, avocado, banana etc.), and limit your intake of excess calories, fat, and sugar.
3. Cut back on salt: You can cut back on your total salt intake by avoiding high-sodium packaged and processed foods and not adding extra salt to your meals.
4. Exercise regularly: Sweat it! Just 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week can make a huge difference.
5. Monitor your blood pressure: Make sure that you have your blood pressure measured regularly, either at your doctor’s office or at home. High blood pressure may often occur without any symptoms.