Mother’s Day and Birth Attendants


Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for phone calls. It’s been a long time since I made one of those calls, as my mom died more than 25 years ago. Now, I get to receive calls from our three grown children. When the first one was born, I had the usual nervousness about a new baby. But, I never worried about whether I would survive the delivery, or whether she would survive infancy.

It’s not the same story for women in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Afghanistan. In too many cases, new moms and their babies don’t make it to their first Mother’s Day. In Uganda, for example, one mother dies every hour. That’s about twenty times higher than the maternal death rate in the US. There is something that can be done, which I’m going to tell you about in a minute. But first, more cold, hard facts.

Up to 15 percent of all mothers giving birth are at risk of death from conditions such as hemorrhage, eclampsia, infection or obstructed labor.  Ninety percent of these women live in Africa and Asia. Even if she does not die giving birth, she may be seriously injured.[1]  The baby’s survival is often dependent on whether his mother survives. He also can die from infection or inadequate care at birth. Forty percent of newborns die within the first 24 hours after they are born.[2]

Not every complication can be prevented, but many can be predicted and treated.  WIth a skilled birth attendant, such as a midwife, both mother and child might be saved. A trained birth attendant can recognize complications, and either intervene to treat, or stabilize the pregnant woman until she can get a higher level of care.

It’s easy to overlook something we take for granted, but the majority of women in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia give birth without skilled care. In developing countries, less than 60% of all deliveries are assisted by a trained midwife.  In some countries this number is as low as 10%.[3]  Imagine the fear a pregnant woman could feel because she lacks access to a hospital or birthing center. Imagine the relief she could feel if she knew a trained midwife would be there to help when she has her baby.

So, here’s the good news. With trained midwives, more moms and children are saved. One group doing just that is World Vision. World Vision is motivated by faith in Jesus and God’s unconditional love for all. In Afghanistan, they have trained 80 midwives in one province, with more training scheduled in another province.[4] Trained midwives have helped reduce infant morality in Afghanistan by 22%.[5] (I am bothered that other organizations include abortion advocacy as a way to reduce maternal mortality. Before donating to any organization, check it out.)

Support for an organization such as World Vision can help many more mothers and children live to see the next Mother’s Day. That’s the best Mother’s Day gift of all.

[1] United Nations Population Fund, “Stepping Up Efforts to Save Mothers’ Lives,” (accessed May 9, 2012).

[2] World Vision, “Maternal and Child Health Care Programs,” (accessed May 9, 2012).

[3] United Nations Population Fund, “Skilled Attendance at Birth,” (accessed May 9, 2012).

[4] World Vision Gift Catalog, “Maternal Health in Afghanistan.” (accessed May 9, 2012).

[5] USAID, “Afghan Mothers Delivered into Good Hands,” Frontlines, December 2010/January 2011, (accessed May 9, 2012).


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