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SAFE MOTHERHOOD. Safe motherhood. Safe motherhood is a woman’s ability to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

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Safe motherhood

Safe motherhood is a woman’s ability to havea safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Nearly every minute, one woman dies from the complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Thatis more than 500,000 women dying each year;99% of these deaths occur in the developing world.


*Other direct causes include,for example: ectopic pregnancy,embolism, anesthesia-related.

**Indirect Causes20%

Severe Bleeding24%

** Indirect causes include,for example: anemia, malaria,heart disease

*Other Direct Causes 8%

Infection 15%

ObstructedLabor 8%

Eclampsia 12%

Unsafe Abortion13%

Causes of maternal deaths worldwide

Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death and disability for women aged 15 to 49 in developing countries.


Why is maternal mortality so high?

Maternal death and disability is a tragedy that has no single cause or solution.

  • Contributing factors include:
    • Difficulty of predictingand/or preventing obstetriccomplications
    • Lack ofaccess to goodquality maternal health services
    • Poor health before and during pregnancy
    • Women’s low social and economic status

What are the social and economic

costs of unsafe motherhood?

  • Long or short term illness
    • As many as 300 million women are suffering from physical ailments related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Infant mortality
    • Children are 3-10 times more likely to die when they lose their mothers.
  • Family poverty
    • A woman’s death or illness perpetuates and increases household poverty.

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Family and community involvementcan make motherhood safer

By promoting:

Proper nutrition before and during pregnancy

Reduced workload during pregnancy and after delivery

Knowledge of the signs of life-threatening complications before,during, and after delivery and where/when to seek appropriate care

Planned delivery with a skilled birth attendant


Ensuring access to maternal health services can save lives

  • Life-saving maternal health services can be provided to women at a minimal cost of US$2 per person per year in low-income countries.
  • Essential services include:
      • Skilled birth attendants before, during, and after delivery
      • Essential obstetric care for management of complications
      • Postpartum family planning counseling and contraception
      • Postabortion care

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What is a skilled birth attendant?

A skilled birth attendantis a midwife, nurse, or doctor who has been trained to proficiency in the skills necessary to:

    • manage normal deliveries
    • diagnose, manage, and/or refer obstetric complications
  • Only 53% of deliveries in the developing world are attended by a skilled attendant, and only 40% take place in a hospital or health center.

Reducing maternal mortality in lowGNP countries

  • Sri Lanka reduced its national maternal mortality ratio from 1,650per 100,000 live births to just 23 per 100,000 in the last 50 years.
    • Achieved through increased access to health facilities, expansionof midwifery care, and acceptance of family planning.
  • Malaysia increased the percentage of women delivering with a skilled attendant from 57% to 98% in the last 20 years. The country’s maternal mortality ratio declined from 570 per 100,000 live births to 20 per 100,000, in the last 43 years.
    • Achieved through political commitment to public health, supportof midwifery throughout health system, and the institution of maternal death audits.