Skip to Main Content

U.S. Maternity Care in Crisis

U.S. Maternity Care in Crisis

by Sarah Shealy CNM, IBCLC

Birth is a physiologic process with strong emotional and spiritual components. Birth outcomes in the United States are among the worst compared to other developed nations. Social and emotional safety for birthing is essential to improving U.S. outcomes. The development of the U.S. maternity care system occurred during a time in our history when racism and sexism were the norm. The medicalization of birth combined with abrogation of midwifery practice in the United States eliminated crucial social structures and supports that helped make birth safe. The results of this process can be seen in the infant and maternal health outcomes we have today.

Read This Paper

About the Author

SARAH SHEALY, an assistant professor of nursing at Mount Saint Mary’s University, believes that health and wellness are the birthright of every human. She is a seasoned provider of care to mothers and babies. Shealy is a certified nurse midwife, a board-certified lactation consultant, and a passionate educator. She earned her degrees from Wellesley College and Yale University School of Nursing, and her research interests include the use of visual art to enhance clinical observation skills.


To learn more about the research and resources from the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University, visit Or contact the director, Emerald Archer, PhD, at or 213.477.2544.