The Best Place to Be a Mom in 2011

by Pregnancy.org Staff

The Best Place to Be a Mom

mom and boyMother's Day is celebrated once a year, but moms worldwide are faced with myriads of challenges every day. According to a survey distributed by "Save the Children*,"the way these needs are met around the world certainly impacts the health, well-being and overall satisfaction of "being a mom."

Each year, "Save the Children" surveys the Women's Health Rankings in 164 countries. The rankings are based on contraception, skilled birthing attendants, risk of maternal death, economic opportunities and life expectancy. Which countries stood out in 2011?

Norway and Australia topped the list while the United States dropped three spots to 33rd out of the 44 developed countries examined. Afghanistan was ranked the lowest.

Keys to Mother's Happiness

What's most important to you as a mom? Is it feeling your baby kicking inside of you and looking forward to meeting him or her? Is it when you're breastfeeding, knowing your baby will fall asleep with a content smile? Is it as simple as waving goodbye to your child at the bus stop knowing they'll be safe at school? All moms worldwide all have the same needs -- to feel confident that their babies will thrive and grow up to be happy, confident, resilient children with access to a proper education, clean food and water and ample economic opportunities.

Keeping Moms and Babies Safe

skin to skin contact, mom holding babyDespite ongoing conflicts and rising civilian casualties, expecting mothers in Afghanistan are at least 200 times more likely to die during childbirth than from the bombs or bullets. One in 11 Afghani women will die from pregnancy or childbirth complications. According to the survey, Afganistan isn't a safe place to be born, either. One in four children do not live past their fifth birthday.

What factors help lower maternal and infant mortality rates? The answer is basic health care, sanitation, and better nutritional habits. You don't have to live in a developing country to strive for a safer pregnancy and babyhood. Here's an opportunity to research and learn which factors are most vital to you. We've pulled together these articles to get you started:

• How can your lifestyle before pregnancy be more eco-friendly? 10 Tips to Prepare for Your Pregnancy
• Does early prenatal care helps prevent problems throughout your pregnancy? The Important First Prenatal Appointment
• Which skilled health care provider would you like attending the birth? Birthing Choices: Care Providers & Labor Locations
If your baby is born too soon, have you considered kangaroo care? What Is Kangaroo Care?

Why Did the United States Rate So Poorly?

The United States has stepped up its efforts to provide aid to developing countries. This aid has been instrumental in cutting the infant mortality rate in these countries by an astounding 47% between 1990 and 2009. Sadly, the United States turns a blind eye to the needs of its moms and children here at home.

What are the other countries doing that the United States isn't? Let's look at some specifics from the high ranking countries. In Sweden for example, 45% of the congressional seats are held by women compared to 17% in the United States. Denmark offers 52 weeks of maternity pay at 100% of wages. In comparsion, women in the United States have no mandated maternity pay and must return to work within 12 weeks. Here are more statistics gleaned from the survey:

  • Maternal mortality: The U.S.A's rate of 1 in 2100 is the highest in the industrialized world. Compare that to Greece's where it's 1 in 31,800.
  • Under 5-mortality: A child born in the United States is twice as likely to die before age two as one born in Singapore, Greece, Iceland or Slovenia.
  • Economic considerations: Two other factors that play into the poor rankings are education and income. 57% of the U.S.A's women go on to college and the typical American woman earns 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
  • Maternity leave: The United States also ranks behind all other wealthy nations both in the length and percentage of wages paid of maternity leave policies.

What would it take to push the United States higher in the rankings? Several solutions could be giving mothers and children access to better education, improved economic opportunities, and maternal-children's healthcare programs. The United States is going to have to address these shortcomings at some point. Once they do take these statistics seriously, not only will more moms and children survive and thrive, the country wil, too.

You Can Help!

Contact your legislative representatives on the state and federal levels. Lobby for improvements in healthcare, particularly maternity and children's health, and maternity leave. Share with us what you've done in your area and encourage others to join in your efforts! Together we thrive!

*Save the Children is an independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need worldwide.

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