This Sunday is Motherís Day and Iíve been thinking a lot about what I should get my mom to celebrate. My mom and I are really close and I wanted to make sure that what I got her had meaning so she would know how important she is in my life. What do you get the person who was always there for you, the person who stood by you even when you knew you had disappointed them? Who was by your side cheering when you overcame obstacles? What can you get her to say thank you for raising you to be the person you are today?
I began thinking about all the things I could get her and how she doesnít really need them. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the issues I work on at the Population Institute, like sexual and reproductive health, family planning and maternal health. And how on Motherís Day, 1,000 women — or one woman every 90 seconds — will die due to pregnancy-related causes. Most of these deaths are easily preventable and 99% of them are in the developing world. That adds up to more than 350,000 women dying every year while trying to give life.
The good news is that we know what needs to be done to drastically reduce the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes: invest in family planning and maternal health care. On the maternal health side, there are five major cause of maternal mortality:
- hemorrhage (severe blood loss)
- sepsis (infection)
- unsafe abortion
- hypertensive disorders (pregnancy complications associated with high blood pressure, including preeclampsia and eclampsia)
- obstructed labor
They are all treatable if the woman has access to trained healthcare workers and a well-equipped health facility.
Family planning, in particular, will help to lower the maternal mortality rate by reducing pregnancy-related deaths.† By investing in family planning internationally, we can prevent unintended pregnancies and abortions, and save the lives of mothers and their children. Right now there are 215 million women of reproductive age who would like to time or space their births differently or stop having children all together, but they are not using modern contraceptives and are said to have an unmet need for family planning. By meeting the existing unmet need, maternal deaths would be reduced by around 35 percent.† Investing in international family planning saves lives.
After thinking about all of this, my decision was easy. My mom doesnít need more things, but what the world needs is more moms to live to be there for their children like my mom was there for me. That is why instead of flowers this year, I made a donation in my momís name buying a safe birthing kit for women giving birth in places where hospitals have been destroyed and doctors are in short supply.
Hopefully the Motherís Day gift I bought for my mom will ensure one mother will live to be there for her child they way that my mom was there for me. For me, I couldnít think of a more perfect gift for my mom than to make sure the world has more moms like her.
Happy Motherís Day!
Photo credit: Kibae Park, UN Photo