Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. While motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, for too many women it is associated with suffering, ill-health and even death. The major direct causes of maternal morbidity and mortality include haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour. (WHO) Eighty percent of maternal deaths are caused by direct obstetric causes such as haemorrhage, infection, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and complications of unsafe abortion. And for every woman who dies from complications related to childbirth, approximately 20 more suffer injuries, infections and disabilities that are usually untreated and ignored, and that can result in life-long pain and social and economic exclusion. Most of these complications cannot be predicted and prevented.
All pregnant women are at risk and can develop complications at any time during pregnancy, delivery and after delivery. However, women and families can learn how to avoid unplanned pregnancies, and if pregnant, they can learn the importance of receiving antenatal care, how to identify danger signs, plan for emergency referrals, and choose safe birthing options. When problems arise, and referral is timely, complications can be treated in health facilities that are adequately equipped with supplies, medications and fully staffed with competently trained health workers. (UNICEF)
Definition: Maternal Death is 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.
Karnataka has set the NHM/12th Plan Goal to reduce MMR to <100/1 lakh live births by 2017.