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Maternal Health
You can do something about it.

Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from injuries of pregnancy or childbirth …and the solutions are just a question of resources. Join us for a discussion of the state of maternal health around the world.

Have a little money you can spare? Learn about Obstetric Fistula—a preventable condition that plagues teenage mothers, and is curable for under $200—in Lisa Russell’s film: Love, Labor, Loss. Thinking about a c-section? Watch as filmmaker, Cara Biasucci examines the overuse of caesarean sections in Brazil in this excerpt of her documentary, “Born in Brazil.”

Experiencing the baby blues? Read Bavi Vythilingum’s piece on her experiences with post partum depression after the birth of her child. Originally thought to be a condition that was limited to rich Western women, we now know it to be an issue that spreads across the spectrum from rich to poor, transcending ethnicity and income level.

Read the stories, watch the videos and join in a global campaign to promote safe motherhood everywhere.

Ecaterina Marshall
In an age when even pre-schoolers know how to use Google, Skype, YouTube and so many other fancy technical innovations, 529,000 mothers die every year either during pregnancy or in or after labor. The majority of these deaths have been preventable for years. 99 percent of these deaths happen in developing countries.

Motherhood experiences vary not only in different countries, but between different socio-economic groups within one nation. The availability or lack of professional health care, medical insurance, social networks, labor legislation - so many things make having a baby so difficult in some places and a bit easier in others.

Share with us your thoughts and views on what makes motherhood different in your country, city, or community.
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67 - 48 of 67 Next | First
nicolas nicolas
Posted on Friday, December 07, 2007 2:25 AM
Bonjour je m'appel Nicolas Jacob je suis d'origine éthiopie de nationalité Belge je suis adopté et mon surnom est le meme que vous SHASHU j'avais beaucoup de question a vous poser sur l'éthiopie sur vos origine est ce que ce prénom est répandu?
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Olubunmi Obasa Julius-Adeoye
Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 7:18 AM
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI) launched in Nairobi, Kenya. To mark the event at the Redeemer’s University, Nigeria a Choreo-Musical Drama title IBIDUNNI devised and directed by Bunmi Julius-Adeoye was staged at the university auditorium on 5th and 6th of June, 2007.
The performance was colourful yet thought provoking and reflected some of the issues associated with safe motherhood.
At the end of the second day of the production there was an interactive session whereby members of the audience including the players, made comments about the play and the dramatic content.
Below are some of the comments:

Part of the money used by the government to refurbish the big hospitals in the city should have been used to equip the hospitals in the rural areas and traditional birth centres where these local people attend …we can also ensure safe motherhood through simple basic hygiene.

The scope of safe motherhood is wider than what was presented in the drama, but all the same the drama has talked so much on the importance of ante-natal. However the education of the female child is a very significant aspect of safe motherhood …then she would learn about time she is due for marriage, the issue of abortion and other procedures necessary for any woman to know. There is also the issue of feeding from childhood so that the pelvic bones can grow properly. Malnourishment can lead to narrow pelvic bones and this can lead to obstructed labour.

The play IBIDUNNI is a vivid illustration of what really happens. The play has shown us what the women in Nigeria are going through. We have a big problem in our hands so we have to make sure that child delivery is safe for our women.

The drama was educative, the theme well thought out and the message precise, very clear as to what they want to achieve…. But there is the need to stress the benefit of some of the practices which the play was trying to promote.

The students have performed very well and we have some lesson to learn. I had the opportunity of working in the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, for a long time, there we discovered that some people prefer going to the local maternity centres instead of attending the hospitals. This is due to the fear of medical tests which they believe would gulp money….Nurses should not forget that they are dealing with human beings…they should give these women immediate attention.

It is very important for husbands to support their wives. In the play the husband supported his wife all the way.

Post-natal period is very important in safe motherhood …retained placenta is an issue. Also in some parts of the country early marriage system and total belief in traditional herbs pose as threats to safe motherhood.

I have learnt a lot. The girls were able to use dance to show the entire theme of the story.

According to the director of the play, who is also the head of the Department of Theatre Arts, the performance was not only an academic exercise but also the contribution of the school towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal number five which is to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by the year 2015.
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Paula Mangrich
United States
Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 6:25 AM
I am not a new mom, but a mother non the less. My children are 16 and almost 14. I have worked most of their childhood and have missed mile stones, and feel quilty at times to tell my son why I can not make it to some of his baseball games. My daughter age 16 has had to deal with her mom being a career mom, although tough at times, she has grown into quite the young lady. Being active in our community by helping at a near by day care and caring for her younger brother (age 14)he is bi-laterally deaf. He did receive a cochlear implant at the age of 5 but because of the severity of the deafness; his speech is impaired as well. They are both strong and confident and are so very proud of their mom, a Manager at the "coolest" place on earth.......Best Buy! Although I work we have very close bonds and a closeness that I never thought that would've developed. Having a good balance of work and home is a huge part of making this work.
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Rowena Dacsig
Philippines, the
Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2007 2:48 AM
Is it right that we say, motherhood is economic based? True enough even here in the Philippines the influence of modern Information Technology has seep though even to pre-schoolers. Must have been a global influence.... Or should we say so that evolution has taken its place and slowly is shaping the future of what the coming generation will be. Motherhood is too... fast pacing with the frequency of changing times.

As always motherhood experiences as stated by the moderator is a persistent problem. If we then say that we are globally and in the modern information technology why then causes these problems?

Is motherhood in this modern and highly technologically advanced times also influencing the availability of required services? I don't know! Should one contest?
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Sonja Zettl
Posted on Thursday, May 03, 2007 1:28 AM
I feel privileged and lucky to live in a country where the mortality rate for mothers is very very low and children are born in most cases healthy and fine. If you go to the preventive medical check-ups regularly complications will usually be discovered soon enough in order to prevent the worst. Hospitals are very good, doctors and midwifes very well educated. All in all I think most women in Germany feel safe. But the technical advancements of ultrasonic controls or fetal cardiac controls can be both, a blessing and a curse.

Women and especially women who are older face the difficult question of undergoing the tests for handicapped children, like children with trisomy 21 etc. Do you take these tests and what are you going to do if the doctor tells you your child has one of the trisomy disruptions? Are you going to abort? And what if your doctor tells you there is something abnormal but they do not exactly know what it is (it happened to a friend of mine. She did not abort and her daughter is perfectly healthy now because the abnormal thing was just a little problem with her liver which could be operated directly after birth with no after effects for the child!)

The problem is here that we all want to have perfect children who will become productive and intelligent members of our society but what happens to the colours of life. We are not all the same and who is to say that the life of someone with a handicap is not worth living? Should we decide what life is worth and what life not? Are we that arrogant?

There is also a movement in Germany for births at home or in special birth houses with only your midwife and loved ones around you. A lot of German women feel overwhelmed by the technical and in their eyes cold environment of a hospital.
I personally prefer a hospital. I am simply not brave enough and would always be afraid that something would happen to my child. I chose a hospital with a pediatric intensive unit just around the corner in case something goes wrong. I do believe that a birth can be a harmonic and wonderful thing if everything is in harmony. If your child finds his way to your pelvis, is lying in the right direction etc. But it can be very stressful for the child if something is not in unison.

I chose a well-known hospital and will give birth there to my son in July. To me all the technical advancements of today and the doctors and my midwife give me a feeling of security for myself but especially for my child. They are all very experienced and I am pretty sure they will give me the best advice. I also do not belong to those people for whom the idea of a c-section is abhorrent. If it is the safest way to bring my child to this world, then so be it. If your child is lying in breech presentation and it is impossible to turn it why take a risk? And it is a big risk for the child. But there are women in Germany who would take that risk just in order to experience a natural birth. Of course it is each woman´s own choice. And I would never criticise that decision but I do believe in the safety of a hospital.

But again the low mortality rate of women and babies in Germany speaks for itself. Even poor people in my country who have the absolute minimum in regard to their health insurance get enough examinations and help during their pregnancy in order to have an uncomplicated birth.

I think it is a shame that in the 21. century giving birth is in so many countries in this world still a situation of great risk for mother and child.
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shamini chandraprakash
Posted on Friday, April 27, 2007 8:44 AM
Hi Tunku Badlishah, I feel very sorry that you guys had to anticipate the painful and unforgettable moment. I believe that some 20 years ago, Malaysia was not able to employ sufficient manpower in the hospital especially in the labour wards.

Today, being one of the most termendous developing countries and to have more and more educated people, I believe the Ministry of Health makes sure that manpower as well as good facilities are provided in the government hospitals. People are more aware of the consequences during childbirth and everybody is not scared to take action if anything goes wrong. For that, government needs to cater good service to the people and I think they do.

I myself gave birth to my first child in a government hospital in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. From my experience, the doctors and nurses were good. I had some complication during my labour and immediately was referred to the specialist. I had to go through an emergency caesarean section and my baby and I were very lucky because everything was done on time and nothing went wrong with my son.

Puteri Af-Idah is not unfortunate. She is indeed very fortunate and lucky to have someone like you. Maybe the district hospitals did not have the facilities but let us highlight it to the people and government of Malaysia so that no infant will loose their mother at birth. Tunku, may your aunt rests in peace in the arm of the Almighty.

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Nicolle Morris
United States
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 10:04 PM
As a direct-entry midwife (no degree, but a license), I feel a lot of frustration about the maternal mortality situation in the world. Its important to remember that this isnt just an issue in "impoverished" countries. The United States rates 46th in the world for maternal mortality rate under many countries with less access to hospitals.
I believe that humanizing maternity care is a crucial factor, as well as respecting and educating traditional midwives. Midwives relate to women as individuals which allows us to give full (mental, spiritual, physical,emotional) care and develop a full plan of care for that is the most relavent to each women's situation (no across the board protocols). We also spend so much time with our clients that we often see issues developing before they become serious.
I feel frustrated that as a direct-entry midwife with a license, proficient in Spanish, and willing to volunteer my time in other countries, most int'l orgs dedicated to maternal health would not accept me without a medical degree.
I feel frustrated that the medical practices in the United States are being mimicked as the "best" all over the world, and the reality is that we have a ridiculously high maternal mortality rate, as well as, a system that shows little respect to women and their children by making " the best decisions" for women and preventing them from participating in the decision making process, and discouraging women from educating themselves about options in their own healthcare
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Ecaterina Marshall
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:02 AM
Assabah-ul-Arjamand Khan - please check the website of GWANC ( at the end of summer 2007. There will be more information posted about GWANC's global maternal, infant and child health advocacy campaign that will need the support of women activists like you all over the world to demand more resources allocated and disbursed to projects targeting mothers and children!
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Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:51 PM
Motherhood is divine.It is a great blessing that abortion is no more an issue and women can have one or two children at the most.This is mostly urban phenomenon in kashmir. If we look at the other aspect of it , it is also due to poverty that children opt for smaller families. Indian Government has also introduced lot of programmes like Integrated Child Development Scheme to reduce the morbidity rate of Pregnant Women. I worked with the same Projects for almost four years but we need to evolve a lot to have safe environment for both mothers and children. It is a long drawn process.
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shamini chandraprakash
Posted on Sunday, April 08, 2007 10:08 PM
I agree with Taroub when it is stated that the first child is not a choice for some of us. I personally have experienced it when I was newly married, the stess I went through before conceiving. The pressures from the surrounding. Then when the first child arrives, then the next was my choice. But it is not the same for everyone...
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Erika Patricia Flores Borges
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2007 5:37 PM
No se por que los gobiernos , no ponen tanto empeño en la salud de mujeres embaradas, hay hospitales donde los medicos y enfermeras no se dan abasto con el numero de alumbramientos, a veces no hay quirofanos suficientes para llevar a cabo un parto.
Se debe buscar una solucion integral para que no existe mas muertes en mujeres embarazadas.
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Taroub Alaref
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2007 9:53 PM

In an answer to your question if motherhood is a choice. I would like to give my opinion and in brief. For a newly married couple the first child is not a choice. The couple can not be sure that the mother can conceive. If they are lucky (that is if they want a child) then it is happiness. If they do not prefer to have children then it is unlucky for them but they have to bear with it.

Now for the other children I believe it is planned childhood. and again it is lucky for them.

Hope I made myself clear .

Thank you for giving me the time to express my opinion
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Betty Kehrle
United States
Posted on Monday, April 02, 2007 4:19 PM
Having access to good healthcare services for pregnancies is imperative. The stories are shocking and sad. When I read the stories I realized that something damaging could have happened to me or my son in my first pregnancy if I had not had good healthcare services. I pray that this forum brings to light the needs of women all over the globe and that proper medical care is given during pregnancy for all of them.
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Betty Kehrle
United States
Posted on Monday, April 02, 2007 4:13 PM
I tried to go back to work after giving birth to my first son. I started working part-time when he was 4 months and was lucky enough to have my mother watch him. However, after 3 months of doing this I decided that I couldn't do it. My husband agreed with me and I quit working. I don't regret the decision, but it has been very hard on me adjusting from being totally independent working woman to a stay at home mom and dependent. I think though now I couldn't go back to work unless it was financially imperative, and even then I would find something I could work from home. I've enjoyed being there for my first son, and I want to be here for my second one as well. Motherhood has been more of a challenge than I first suspected and my admiration goes out to those mother who manage it in far worse condition than I have.
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Ecaterina Marshall
Posted on Monday, March 26, 2007 10:32 AM
I’ve attended a public event today at the Gallup Organization in Washington DC that focused on how to get average US citizens and politicians focus on social issues (education in this specific case) and wanted to share with your several thoughts on health advocacy.

Gallup presented selected results of several recent polls on what Americans care about.

Only 8% of respondents believe that health care is an important problem facing America today. (March 2007)

Only 7% of respondents found health care the most important issue before 2006 elections.

Does it mean that the US healthcare system and the health status of the American people is perfect and satisfies everyone? It certainly is better than in a number of low-income countries, but for the richest nation in the world these numbers should be a cause of embarrassment:

The maternal death rate in 2000 in the US was 17 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – one of the highest in the developed world. (See: World Health Report)

In 2004, according to preliminary data, 29.1 percent of births took place by cesarean section, the highest rate ever reported. (See: Women’s Health 2006)

American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway. It is the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world. (See: Save the Children)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed-without supplemental food or liquids-for the first 6 months of life, based on research evidence of reduced risk of upper respiratory and other common infections. Yet in 2004, only 17.4 percent of infants were exclusively breastfed at 6 months. (See: Women’s Health 2006)

Almost nine million children in the US are uninsured. (See

How to we make an average Joe think about healthcare if at this specific point s/he is not concerned about it? Several prominent US journalists and researchers were arguing today whether an international comparison case would strike the audience more or an appeal to look at the children and mothers living nearby and dying without health insurance, or poor quality medical services, or due to the lack of education to help raise health awareness. What do you think would work better to wake up the quiet masses of satisfied citizens? What message do they need to hear to start believing that health IS an important problem in the US?
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Ecaterina Marshall
Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 8:22 AM
Here is a story to illustrate some of the factors affecting the high rates of maternal mortality in the developing world.

“Sangima watched her sister-in-law Mastbegeen die trying to give birth to her seventh child. The baby was born prematurely and there was excessive bleeding during labour. There were no doctors or trained midwives near her village in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakshan to help so her family had to watch her life ebb away; the child did not survive either.
Such is the reality in many remote villages of the Wakhan corridor in Badakshan, where there is little or no access to healthcare. In this rugged area in the Pamir Mountains it takes between four and six days on horse-back or by yak to reach the nearest medical facility, provided bad weather has not blocked the roads.
Abdul Haq, a resident of Big Pamir village, also endured his 29-year-old wife dying during delivery. "We don't have clinics, schools or [government] offices here. Who do we go to with our problems?" he asked.
"When women or children get sick there are two ways [here]. Either Allah makes them well or they die," he said.

With 6,500 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births, Badakshan province has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). While Badakshan fares the worst, the situation throughout Afghanistan remains dismal. UNICEF officials in Kabul say that Afghanistan has the second-highest maternal mortality rates in the world - 1,600 per 100,000 live births - after Sierra Leone.


Now, think about this.
Worldwide, every year 14.5 million mothers and their babies die unnecessarily - ten million more than the men and women that die of AIDS each year.

Yet in 2003 just $663 million of the world’s aid flows were directed to maternal and neonatal care while a total of $10 billion is expected to be available for dealing with the AIDS crisis in 2007.

There have been attempts to draw international attention to this problem. There have been commitments made on the governmental level to address maternal mortality. Why is it that until now we still have 14.5 million of mothers and babies die each year from mostly preventable causes? Where are the women’s movements? Why domestic violence attracts more media coverage than the deaths of millions of mothers, infants and children that could have been prevented?

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Ecaterina Marshall
Posted on Monday, March 19, 2007 1:03 PM
In response to the question “why women do not have control over the number of children” – check out this short intro to the family planning issue published by the World Health Organization. Very brief and very true.

Something else we have not spoken about yet in this forum: illnesses related to pregnancy and labor. One of the most unpleasant consequences of unattended labor - obstetric fistula - accounts for 8 percent of maternal deaths world wide with millions more women and girls living with shame, isolation and abject poverty because of the stigma linked to their condition. Check out this link for more information:
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Shahzada Sher
Posted on Sunday, March 18, 2007 10:55 PM
sus iw from usa is asking....Interests
I want to know how women around the world feel about their children. I want to know how women provide for their children. I want to know if other women feel they have enough control over how many chilren they have and when. I don't understand how women in war ravaged countries can provide for their children. I want to know what I can do to help these women and children.

my answer..untill recently women couldnt have known what went on with the children.the 60s telivision,the 70s rock n roll.and untill 80s capitalism had taken charges of attention everywhere outside usa and the capitalists got a bigger incentive in countries where regimes gave in more to fed/central adminstrations [govts] for cash or loans to maintain shopping in geneva paris where senior affairs that led to war were arbitrated..about having babies? "gluck gluck" the comb hasnt another reason of pride!

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Shahzada Sher
Posted on Sunday, March 18, 2007 10:18 PM
aha ! must be the kind of secrecy that should be kept from women!
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Sinora Lorena
Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007 10:39 PM
Well, many women do not have reproductive health services available in many countries. Including the right to comprehensive sex education. So in reality many women do not know about the ways they can control when and how many children they have. You have been blessed by having education and knowing about your sexual rights. Other women are not so lucky.
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