Far fewer women die from pregnancy and childbirth than they did just two decades ago. According to a recent report from the World Health Organization and the United Nations, 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010, half as many as in 1990.
Yet for many women, childbirth is as dangerous as ever. Those who live in developing countries are more than 15 times more likely to die from complications.
In my travels to the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, the Navajo Nation, Massachusetts and Mexico over the past six years, I’ve seen how women can have meaningful experiences whether they give birth in operating rooms, hospital beds or at home. When maternity care integrates midwifery and cultural traditions with doctor backup when complications arise, women feel respected and heard while giving birth safely.