No, it’s not Mother’s Day on the calendar, but let’s just say every day is special for all mothers who brought us into this world. In June of 1900 my grandmother was born; that’s her right there, named after her mom. Five days later her mother, Jennie–a healthy 24 year old, died as a result of complications of childbirth; in those days it was called childbirth fever–it’s now called puerperal fever. It was a painful way to die and often the infant followed soon after. With maternal death commonly running at 1 per 100 births at that time, childbirth presented risks regardless of income, class or health, including royalty. Such was the case for much of the past, and one of my favourite historical persons, Émilie de Châtelet (1706-1749), a mathematian, physicist and author confided to a friend in a letter her fears she would not survive the birth of her child; she was correct.
Today 99% of maternal deaths are in developing countries with almost half in sub-Saharan Africa and a third in South Asia (according to WHO), areas where women have little to no access to literacy or health assistance. The leading cause of death for adolescent girls in these countries is childbirth. The risk for women in poorer countries is compounded by the fact they experience more pregnancies.
It takes very little to reduce the risks for a mother to be by providing clean tools and the support of someone to assist with the delivery. CleanBirth.org provides birthing kits and training to women in communities in Laos, teaching safe practices and spreading information about its importance. A donation of $5 saves two lives. The cost of a greeting card. Something to think about.