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Merck for Mothers BlogHer Event #merckformothers 3

Recap: #MerckForMothers Health Event

 

There were many events that I attended during BlogHer weekend, but the most gratifying and empowering one was the Merck for Mothers event.

 

Merck for Mothers Event #merckformothers

Arriving for the Merck for Mothers Event at the Fairmont Hotel

 

A room of nearly 100 women shared their personal stories of pregnancy and childbirth, and the complications and challenges they experienced that nearly took their lives. Some Mothers like me suffered post-partum hemorrhaging. Others developed preeclampsia or suffered a pulmonary embolism. Even though our experiences were different, all of us shared one common thread: not being thoroughly informed of the possible complications that could occur during or after pregnancy. I was not made aware of the risks of such complications happening, nor any ways that the risks could be reduced. Another thing I felt was that I was solely responsible for the complications I experienced, and that I was all alone.

Merck For Mothers Event 

Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers dispelled many of the misconceptions for the Mothers in the room. As an OB-GYN and global health expert, she explained how there are thousands of women in the United States each year (more than 60,000) who nearly lose their lives while carrying or delivering a child. Every 10 minutes, a woman in the U.S. nearly dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable. She also shared the startling fact that there are currently 63 other countries in the world that are safer to have a child in than the U.S. In fact, the U.S. ranks 64th in the world in maternal mortality—behind nearly every other developed nation. What’s worse, maternal mortality very often is not investigated in the U.S. like other deaths are. They are not even accurately counted.

Merck For Mothers Event 

Merck for Mothers Event #merckformothers

Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers

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*Fact: There is no “pregnant” check box / indication box on death certificates.

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Because of the lack of indication and investigation, the data for maternal mortality is not as it should be. This greatly limits the amount of research done to determine the likely causes and proper protocols to help reduce and prevent the number of maternal mortalities in the United States.

Merck For Mothers Event 

Not only has this created a lack of awareness of the severity of maternal mortality, but as a result, there is also a lack of availability of standardized emergency care and an overall lack of access for expectant Mothers to get the care and information they need when and where they need it.

The key to having a healthy pregnancy and childbirth is preparation. Yet women cannot be prepared without the right information and care at the right times. That is why Merck for Mothers was created: a 10-year initiative designed to reduce maternal mortality around the world, including right here in the U.S.

 

Merck for Mothers is on a mission to equip women with the knowledge they need to help ensure that each and every pregnancy and childbirth is safe, healthy, and successful. They want to empower women to advocate for themselves and other women not just during pregnancy, but long afterwards as well.

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 *Fact: Some maternal complications can occur after delivery and have long-lasting implications. Did you know that 30% of convulsions of high blood pressure happen after child birth?

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Merck for Mothers hopes to educate women about the importance of not waiting until an emergency happens, but instead being proactive in managing their pregnancy and delivery. They want women to talk to their doctors and health care professionals—and even other women—about risk factors, potential complications, and warning signs of pregnancy and childbirth.

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 P.E.P. is three of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the U.S.:

Preeclampsia

Embolism (pulmonary)

Post-partum Hemorrhage

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I had the privilege of being a part of my first PEP talk at the event. It began with a personal story from special guest Jennifer Albert, a Mother who shared how complications of increased amniotic fluid and  hemorrhaging resulted in a 10-day hospital stay, around-the-clock care, and being incapable of caring for her newborn baby upon her return home.

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Merck for Mothers Event #merckformothers

Mom Jennifer Albert sharing her personal story with the audience via Skype

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As other Mothers in the room opened up and shared their stories, I was reminded of my own childbirth experience with my second pregnancy. At that moment I realized there is a stigma placed on pregnancy and childbirth: that ‘no one wants a “bad” pregnancy because it’s shameful or sad,’ and the problematic experiences have become a taboo subject. However, Mothers taking the charge to be more open about their experiences, knowledge, and advice can be one way in helping to prevent other women from reaching the same fate. Women sharing with other women is the key that opens the door to real empowerment.

Merck For Mothers Event 

I have two cousins who are pregnant right now. I made a pledge to have the PEP talk with them to share my story and encourage them to talk with their doctors about potential risks and complications during and after their pregnancy. As a Merck for Mothers Blog Ambassador, I am also committed to having the PEP talk with other family members and friends who are planning pregnancy or who may become pregnant. I commit to using my voice both online and offline to continue to raise awareness of the issue of maternal mortality in hopes to make a difference and save lives.

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Merck for Mothers Event #merckformothers

 

Attending the Merck for Mothers event enlightened me tremendously. I am glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of such an important discussion, and I am very proud to be a Merck for Mothers blog Ambassador.

merck for mothers event

You can help by pledging to tell someone you love to have a “PEP Talk” with their healthcare professional about leading pregnancy complications. Take the pledge on MerckforMothers.com. You can also learn more about Merck for Mothers on Facebook and Twitter.

merck for mothers event

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Who will you have a PEP Talk with? Share with me below.

Merck for Mothers Event #merckformothers

Makeba Giles is a Digital Content Producer and Founder of Faith Health and Home, a digital space with information and resources for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to help families live an inspired lifestyle.

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Brandi

My best friend is pregnant now, and I vow to have a PEP talk with her. I appreciate that Merck is working domestically. Women in America need this type of support, but we’re sometimes overlooked. Thanks so much for sharing such great information!

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