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A Mother’s Day Check-In

We celebrate our mothers in May. For many it is an idyllic time of flowers and appreciation. But how are our moms really? 

Maternal health is the health of women in pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In 2010 the U.S. Joint Commission of Healthcare Organizations called maternal health a sentinel event, meaning that it is a marker for how well the health of a population is doing.

The good news is that maternal health is improving. Since 2015, maternal mortality, meaning deaths during the crucial time of pregnancy and childbirth, has dropped by 2.5 percent a year across the world. The not-so-good news is that there are still preventable bad outcomes, including death. The Canadian Perinatal Surveillence system reports that severe illness/morbidity occurs in 15.8 out of 1000 births in Canada. We do poorly in rates of excessive weight gain and smoking in pregnancy.

Poverty, poor access to health care, nutrition and infectious diseases are factors that lead to bad outcomes in pregnancy and delivery. Although we have universal health care coverage in Canada, women have a hard time accessing care due to a shortage in primary care. Most prenatal care is done by family physicians. In London, we know that 65,000 people are unable to find a family physician.  

There are also issues of geography in Canada. Rural and isolated communities have difficulty reaching care in a timely manner. Indigenous women, in particular, have difficulty not only accessing but also trusting health care as a result of intergenerational trauma and colonization. We can do better. 

So this Mother’s Day, celebrate your mom. Take a moment to reflect on how much mothers across the world sacrifice to give birth and care for their children. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!


Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and proud grandmother of three! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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