In August, a college girlfriend of mine passed away while giving birth to her first child. She was 33 years old. Fortunately, her daughter lived. She is a beautiful baby who will be raised by her loving father, and she is surrounded by people of who love her and who will take excellent care of her, but she will never know her mother. A mother's love is a love every child should know. I think about my friend and her daughter everyday. As a mother of a 4 year old, 2 year old, and another baby due in February, this tragedy not only reminds me of my own vulnerability and mortality but also reinforces the need for increased advocacy for Maternal Health.
The United States like other countries around the world continues to struggle with Maternal Health. During the 2008 presidential election campaign, Senator John McCain suffered some much deserved backlash for making flippant, uninformed, and insensitive remarks minimizing maternal health in support of his pro-life position on the abortion issue. In the United States, we like to think that we are more medically advanced than other nations, but according to an Amnesty International maternal mortality report 40 countries have lower maternal mortality rates than the United States and the maternal mortality rate in this country has been on the rise since 1998. The report states that "a total of 1.7 million women a year, one-third of all pregnant women in the country, suffer from pregnancy-related complications." Minority women continue to be at the greatest risk.
Much needs to be done to protect our mothers and to ensure that mommy and baby make it home from the hospital and through the postpartum phase safe and healthy. Are you ready to help? The MillIon Moms Challenge is a campaign launched by several international entities designed to bring awareness and action to the global fight against maternal mortality. Visit the Million Moms Challenge website to bring learn how you can help protect moms in the U.S. and abroad.
Below is a list of just a few of the non-profit organizations that are devoted to Maternal Health:
- Life of Mothers (www.lifeofmothers.org)
- Physicians for Peace (www.physiciansforpeace.org)
- Pre-Vent (www.pre-vent.org)
- Women Deliver (www.womendeliver.org)
Call to action: Be an advocate for Maternal Health. Write your local representatives and tell them you want more done to promote Maternal Health. Legislation is currently pending, so tell them to support the Maternal Health Accountability Act 2011 (H.R. 894). You can tract the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov
Are you considering starting a non-profit but are uncertain of the cause your would like to pursue? Consider Maternal Health.