Giving Birth in the U.S. Is More Dangerous than You Thought


December 16, 2015

“… every mother deserves the highest standard of compassionate health care to ensure safe outcomes for herself and her baby.” – Christy Turlington

It hardly seems possible that the United States is one of only eight countries where the number of women dying as a result of pregnancy and childbirth is going up (this is known as maternal mortality). That list includes countries like Afghanistan and South Sudan.

This means that the U.S. is the only developed country whose maternal mortality has been consistently on the rise since 1990.

giving birth in AmericaThe numbers are staggering. The United States spends more money on health care than any other industrialized country, yet some 650 women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions.

“Giving Birth in America”

Christy Turlington and her organization Every Mother Counts have been actively working to improve the state of health for pregnant and new mothers around the world. They are focusing part of their work right here at home. Every Mother Counts’ latest effort is a 3-part, short film series called “Giving Birth in America.”

The films examine some of the reasons behind the U.S. being the only industrialized country with a consistently rising rate of mothers dying in childbirth or complications around pregnancy and birth. It premiered on CNN last week.

We follow four pregnant women and their healthcare providers in Florida, Montana and New York in the days leading up to delivery. Together, they navigate various challenges of racial inequality, poverty, chronic illness, and over reliance on unnecessary medical interventions – all factors that have led America into this serious situation for moms.



New York:

In a recent op-ed, Turlington wrote how Every Mother Counts is addressing some of the concerns American women are facing: from poor access to health care, overuse of medical interventions, lack of education and lack of skilled doctors, nurses, midwives and nurse practitioners. In particular, women of color and low-income women face new health challenges plus financial, racial, cultural and systemic barriers. These can lead to lower quality care or no care at all, as well as legal, hospital and life insurance challenges.

Take Action Challenge

  1. The work starts by raising awareness that the United States has a problem with women dying in birth and pregnancy – go to Every Mother Counts to make a commitment to reverse these statistics.
  1. Watch and share “Giving Birth in America.”
  1. Tell your birth story and add your voice and support to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Share it below or on submit via Every Mother Counts’ Facebook app.

Share this post!