Every Mother Counts

After my daughter was born, I was a little shocked at how dependant she was on me. I’m not sure why. I don’t know what I expected. However, the shock became depression and it wasn’t too long before I felt helpless and angry that this baby wouldn’t sleep. That it needed ME for survival. It was overwhelming.

It was like the worst pressure you’ve ever had at work, like the ENTIRE company and project was depending on YOU.

I used to freak out driving. I used to get scared that if someone hit me, I would get injured, or worse – die. My only problem with that thought at the time was this: WHO WILL LOOK AFTER MY BABY?

The idea of something happening to me would send my thoughts racing into a scary and awful black hole. My baby will starve. My baby will cry. My baby will miss me. She will cry for me and I won’t be there. My baby will die without me.

Just thinking about a baby who has lost its mother makes me feel all kinds of sad. In fact just typing it is affecting my tear ducts. (I should mention that by the time my daughter was 6 months old, these kind of depressing thoughts no longer visited, and I am now delighted and most days over the moon with the joy of being a mother.)

However in decades gone by, it was not unusual to hear of problems occuring with the mother’s health during or after labour, sometimes resulting in the mother’s death. Of course these days there are so many trained medicals on hand, and there’s been so much research done with post partum care, that as a pregnant woman about to give birth: your own health barely crosses your mind. It’s all baby, baby baby. (Which is why I think post-natal depression sometimes occurs).

In fact there is so much focus is on the baby’s health, we often forget that the woman giving birth can be susceptible to all kinds of physical health complications. I had a fairly good labour. There were minor complications with the baby, but she was fine. Perhaps just a bit traumatised. And I was fine -physically. Tired, but 100% healthy.

A friend of a friend was not so fortunate. Last year, after her son was born, her uterus kept contracting and she was losing dangerous amounts of blood. She was rushed to intensive care and hooked up to a transfusion. It wasn’t enough; she was losing blood too quickly. The doctors realised if they didn’t remove her uterus, she would die from loss of blood. So they did, and she was also eventually fine.

In other parts of the world women are not so lucky. There is no intensive care. There are no options for transfusions. There are no doctors to perform these procedures. The care needed to look after a woman who is experiencing complications – often care that could prevent her death – does not exist.

Here are some facts:

1. Post-partum care: Twenty million of the estimated 210 million women who become pregnant each year experience life-threatening complications, many of which occur during the postpartum period—in fact, up to 50 percent of all maternal deaths take place during the first 48 hours after delivery.

2. Lack of Health Workers: Half of the world’s women give birth at home alone or with only a friend or relative to help. Skilled attendance at all births is considered to be the single most critical intervention for ensuring safe motherhood. Up to 15 percent of all births are complicated by a potentially fatal condition and yet almost all are treatable when there is a skilled attendant present to recognise problems early and to intervene and manage the complication.

3. Lack of equipment and supplies. Even when a woman does get to a health center, there may be no trained staff, no drugs, no blood bank, nor the necessary surgical equipment and skills to perform a caesarean section.

4. Transportation. Rural women are far less likely than their urban counterparts to receive skilled care during childbirth. A woman can bleed to death in two hours, and such delays cost many women and newborns their lives.

5. Funds. A lack of money means that many women can’t buy the simple things needed for their care, let alone pay the fees often charged by clinics and health workers.

You may remember Christy Turlington. She was one of my favourite supermodels. (Elle will always be my fave…), and featured in a couple of George Michael’s film clips. Of course this just makes me love her more.


But THIS really makes me respect her. After experiencing complications from the birth of her first child in 2003, she became interested in prenatal health, thus sparking the birth of her film. Christy is making her directional debut with No Woman, No Cry, a full-length documentary that examines health care options for expecting women in four different countries: Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh and the United States.

Here is a snippet of the film.

You can follow Christy on twitter here.   Or you can go to this site and sign your name to a petition which will according to The Huffington Post, be taken to the next G8 Summit.

I know this isn’t an issue that everyone will feel attached to. I’m also sorry this post wasn’t very ‘fun’ today.

However – having a child is without a doubt the scariest, most overwhelming and stressful and painful thing I have ever done. It has changed me in ways I can’t even explain. But I had amazing help from a doctor, a midwife, a clinic nurse, and support from family and friends. 

Learning that some women aren’t getting BASIC care astounds me. HOW do they cope?

If you had a mother who was able to care for you in your early years of life – then I urge you to sign the petition. Because without her imagine how different your life could have been.

Perhaps I should’ve saved this one for Mothers Day??? Oh well, today is the Queen’s Day, and she is supposedly the mother of many nations.


One comment

  1. Victoria Penrose · June 28, 2010

    I applaud you for speaking up. I am pregnant with my first child and will require a caesarian due to a broken pelvis injury dating back to 1998….these women from less developed nations would probably not get this kind of care.

    It is so important to raise awareness in this way.

    Thank you Cindy!

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