Top 5 causes of maternal death

  • PublishedJanuary 18, 2019

A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that approximately 830 women die every day due to pregnancy-related complications  with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries.

Statistics show that the maternal death rates in Kenya are at 362 death rates per 100,000 live births. Maternal death can occur when a woman is pregnant, during labor, during delivery, or six days after delivery or abortion.

Below are the leading causes of maternal death

Severe bleeding

Severe bleeding after delivery (postpartum haemorrhage) is responsible for 27% of the maternal deaths reported worldwide. A woman can bleed to death if there is no skilled care provider available to help stop the bleeding.

Unsafe abortions

Unplanned pregnancy, especially for someone who is not married, can be devastating. This is the reason why most of the ladies who find themselves in such a situation tend to consider abortion as the best course of action. Unsafe abortion, however, can lead to death. 8% of the maternal deaths experienced occur as a result of abortion.


Some women, unfortunately, experience very long labor, which apart from being painful can lead to infections. Unsafe abortion and unsanitary delivery can also lead to infections, which contribute to 11% of maternal deaths.  There is need for awareness on hygiene after delivery to avoid some of these infections.


This is a condition occurring during the second half of pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Good medical care helps treat pre-eclampsia. Left untreated, severe complications can result for both the mother and child, leading to death.

Blood clots

Blood clot especially in the lungs can develop after delivery leading to death of the mother. It is more likely to happen after delivery through cesarean section.

Other complications

Complications such as ectopic pregnancy and uterine rupture can lead to maternal death if the mother does not receive proper medical care.

Proper medical care can help deal with these causes of maternal death. Women should have access to good healthcare during pregnancy and after delivery.

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