Did Aviva Romm just blame women who die in childbirth for their own deaths?

Blaming the victim

An alt-med shill’s work is never done.

She always has to be out there shilling her books and supplements to increase her income, as if she didn’t already make enough from practicing “functional” medicine.

One of Romm’s favorite tactics, in common with everyone who profits from the natural childbirth industry, is to demonize modern obstetrics. But this time she appears to have gone off the rails. She is so busy demonizing that she comes perilously close to demonizing women who die in childbirth.

Here’s what she posted on her Facebook page, attempting to boost sales for one of her books.

Aviva Romm 2-9-15

While the chance of dying in childbirth in the US is extremely low, the rate, according to the latest data from the CDC, continues to rise, not go down in recent years. This is attributed to increasing rates of chronic disease in pregnant women — and much of this is preventable by achieving a healthy weight prior to pregnancy, preventing gestational diabetes with a properly balanced diet that is not high glycemic and getting enough nutrients, especially vitamin D3. Some of this is also due to birthing practices in the hospital (not saying that home is without problems, but the maternal mortality rate is lower with planned home births to healthy moms with competent midwives).

So, Aviva, if only those lazy, fat pregnant women would stop stuffing their faces, they wouldn’t die in childbirth?

And since maternal mortality disproportionately affects Black women (who are 3 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women), they must be 3X more likely to be lazy, fat, and endlessly eating, right? It couldn’t possibly be racism or poverty?

That wasn’t what you meant to imply, Aviva, when you blamed women who die in childbirth for their own deaths, was it?

You only meant to mislead women about the role of nutrition in maternal death so you could make more money off your own books? That’s what it seems like to me.

Before we parse the absolute bullshit that you posted, let’s take a look at who dies in pregnancy and childbirth in the US. The data come from Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2006–2010 published in the January 2015 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Maternal mortality by ethnicity 2006-2010

The highest rates of maternal mortality occur in women greater than age 40. Maternal deaths among African Americans dwarf those of other ethic groups.

Why do women die in pregnancy and childbirth?

Maternal mortality causes 1987-2010

You can see that whereas some causes of maternal death like hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia have diminished in importance, others have steadily increased including pre-existing cardiac disease and cardiomyopathy (pregnancy induced weakness of the heart muscle).

What do these have to do with nutrition?

Absolutely, positively NOTHING.

What do these have to do with vitamin D3?

Absolutely, positively NOTHING.

What has Aviva herself been doing to decrease maternal mortality?

Absolutely, positively NOTHING.

She practiced for years as a homebirth midwife, but now that she has real medical training, and could actually care for pregnant women properly, she refuses to take that responsibility.

Wait, let me amend that; she’s not doing nothing: she’s been exploiting the tragedy of maternal mortality to sell her books and promote her world view.

And lying.

Consider this gem:

[T]he maternal mortality rate is lower with planned home births to healthy moms with competent midwives

Not only is this a lie, but to my knowledge, there are no studies that are large enough and have enough statistical power to address that issue, since maternal mortality is measured per 100,000 women.

Ironically, I recently heard about yet another maternal death at homebirth that occurred in Arlington, Texas. A mother attempting a VBA2C delivered a lifeless baby and collapsed. The baby survived after being treated with cooling therapy for hypoxia (lack of oxygen), but the mother died despite heroic attempts by doctors to save her life. She left 4 children motherless. Add that to the 22 additional children left motherless when their mothers died at homebirth (She trusted birth … and it killed her. Now her children will pay the price.)

No doubt all these women were getting enough nutrients, but it didn’t make any difference.

The truth about maternal death is the US is this:

It’s not clear that it is rising, because better reporting has been responsible for at least part of the increase, but it isn’t falling. As the graph above demonstrates, the single biggest factor is the increased birth rate of women over 40. Those women are more likely to have chronic diseases, NOT because they didn’t eat right, but because chronic disease incidence increases with age. Moreover, although the number of pregnant women requiring intensive care is increasing, there are very few obstetric intensivists, very few obstetric intensive care units, and no rating system to facilitate transfer of critically ill mothers to hospitals that have the experts and equipment to treat them.

The bottom line is that the solution to maternal mortality is NOT better nutrition; it is NOT vitamin D3; it is NOT homebirth; and it is NOT buying Aviva Romm’s books. It is imperative that we increase our ability to identify critically ill pregnant women, transfer them to specialty obstetric units that have the personnel and equipment to manage their complex medical problems so we can apply MORE interventions to those complex medical problems, and identify best practices for managing complex medical conditions in pregnancy.

Stop blaming the victims, Aviva Romm; stop exploiting the tragedies of these women, particularly women of color, to shill your books; start doing something effective to address the problem, if indeed you care about it at all.