As if we mothers didn’t have enough to worry about already, a Fox News talking head has turned wild speculation into a chance to tell us what we already know: having a baby can kill you, even after the fact. It’s called ‘maternal death’ in case you didn’t know, and we’re all at risk. No, it’s not a guilt trip some mothers lay on their families, but a true phenomenon that runs through our fertility, the risk of death inherent in bringing about life.
What is maternal death? According to the Wikipedia Website, the WHO defines it this way: “A maternal death is defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.” (Here’s a link to the CDC’s take on Maternal Mortality Surveillance for further reading).
You can read Mr. Manny Alvirez’s article at FoxNews.com (”Did Motherhood Kill Anna Nicole Smith?”) but I’d like to point out that Dr. Manny enjoys stretching the bounds of credulity in persuit of a hot, tabloid headline. The WHO defines a maternal death as occurring within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, no matter how that pregnancy has ended. Only 10% of maternal death cases are thought to occur beyond that time limit, and Anna Nicole’s bizarre demise came 154 days after the birth of her daughter–nearly four months beyond the WHO’s definition’s cutoff. But since there seems to be a not-so-subtle trend for anything tawdry, voyeristic, and cruel where it comes to the institution of motherhood and childbirth, these days, I’m not surprised to find this small gem shining its muck for all to see.
To be sure, it’s an interesting premise. I’d be curious to know whether it was the pressure to become a Barbie doll again that might have killed Anna Nicole… in which case, the very surpression of motherhood is what killed her. It’s easy for me to say, sitting comfortably on my amply padded rear. I’ve come to terms with, if not an agreement, the extra skin on my belly from becoming a torpedo at the end of my pregnancy. With the worn out breasts and widened pelvis, the dark circles under my eyes and the stress of never enough time. I didn’t have some 100 pound, airbrushed photographs of myself to which I felt I had to suddenly re-conform. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, mamas, those of you who are agonizing over the changes your body has gone through since pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding have taken their toll: you’re still sexy, the way you are now. Sure, you’re a bit baby-chewed. But you are a bringer of life, and if that’s not the best aphrodisiac, I don’t know what is.
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