Today the latest UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths has been published by MBRRACE-UK.
This year the report – Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care 2018 – examines in detail the care of women who died during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2014 and 2016 in the UK and Ireland from mental health conditions, blood clots, cancer, and homicide, and women who survived major bleeding.
Maternal suicide is the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath, and the leading cause of death over the first year after pregnancy.
The report states that “there is now greater awareness of the importance of mental health during pregnancy and in the first year after birth. But there is still a long way to in recognising symptoms, supporting women with mental health problems and providing access to specialist perinatal mental health care.”
Maternal deaths are not evenly spread across the population. Black women are five times and Asian women two times more likely to die as a result of complications in their pregnancy than white women.
In response, Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said:
“The human tragedies described here emphasise the urgency of addressing the gaps in perinatal mental health care in pregnancy, postnatally and pre-conceptually.
The enquiry shows that maternal suicide is the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath, and it remains the leading cause of death over the first year after birth.
Alongside improvements in specialist mother and baby mental health services – that are becoming evident in England and Wales, women need professionals in all services to be as interested, knowledgeable and skilled in mental health care during maternity as they are in their care of women’s physical health. Women and babies also need services to work together and to have the capacity and resources to provide routine detection, prevention and treatment, and crisis care, all of which are needed to ensure care is both effective and safe.”
Read the full report on the MBRRACE-UK website.