Could the Day You Deliver Affect Your Maternal-Fetal Mortality Risk?

Recent research finds a link between the day of delivery and risk of maternal-fetal mortality. What can you do to keep yourself—and your baby—as safe as possible?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are three to four times higher than in other developed nations—a disturbing and worrisome fact, to be sure. And researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston are looking into possible reasons why—including whether or not the day or the week a mama delivers plays any part in maternal-fetal mortality.

As it turns out, the researchers did find evidence to support the idea that weekend deliveries might result in higher rates of maternal-fetal death. But—and it's a big but—there's no need to freak out about the day your baby arrives (which, for most moms, is totally out of our control anyway.)

Fit Pregnancy talked to Steven Clark, M.D., the study's senior author, who explained the findings—and what they mean for the average mom and baby—in more detail: “This is not a huge risk if you look at the actual numbers," he says. "If you look at it over 45 million patients, yeah, there is a trend. [But] if you look at a woman’s risk of dying on a weekend [versus a weekday] it is almost too small a difference to be concerned about for an individual person. I would say the message is here is if you have complications and have a planned delivery, you [might not] want to pick a weekend, but if you just go into labor on a weekend, the care is going to be just fine for the overwhelming majority."

And there's another reassuring piece of news coming out of this study, which is to be presented Friday, Jan. 27, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting. The researchers also sought to observe any association between maternal-fetal mortality and the "July phenomenon," which refers to increased risk during the month when medical school graduates begin their residencies—and found none.

"We found there was no July effect," Dr. Clark told Fit Pregnancy. "In other specialities, this has been noted. Our data showed no July effect at all. No month was different than any other month in terms of risk."