Democracy Now recently spoke with pioneering midwife Ina May Gaskin about maternal mortality in the United States and birthing options that are safe and affordable.
Gaskin, who is the founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee, revealed some shocking facts about the state of maternal health.
"We let so many maternal deaths go invisible," she said, adding that the U.S. is one of four countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is rising rather than falling.
According to Gaskin, the heavy reliance on invasive procedures during labor in hospitals has added to this staggering statistic.
Gaskin is also the founder of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, which seeks to draw attention to the high maternal mortality rate in the United States.
"It's very rare to see an undisturbed birth in a modern U.S. hospital," she told TIME magazine in 2011, "but when you see a woman who isn't frightened, who's giving birth without interference, you stand back in awe and realize how little needed you are except in the rare circumstance."
Citing the problematically high rates of C-section deliveries and forceps births in U.S. hospitals, Gaskin said that these procedures are "causing women to die".
Gaskin also expressed concern that many American doctors and nurses have been trained in a culture that seems to be afraid of "normal" births.
Last year, she won a Right Livelihood Award for her work "teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods."