There is a general impression among physicians that there has been a great improvement in maternal mortality during the past half century. This impression is based on the present favorable maternal mortality in hospital and dispensary services, and not on a comparison of mortality and birth statistics.
In 1917, Grace L Meigs1 made a careful study of maternity mortality from all conditions connected with childbirth from the available records of the United States and certain other countries. In answer to the question, Is the death rate from childbirth falling? she says (page 17):
According to the evidence available, these death rates are apparently not decreasing. During the twenty-three years ending in 1913, in this country no definite decrease in the death rate from the diseases caused by pregnancy and confinement can be demonstrated; nor can any decrease in the death rate from puerperal septicemia be shown.
She says further
DAVIS CH. MATERNAL MORTALITY. JAMA. 1920;74(8):523-525. doi:10.1001/jama.1920.02620080025008