Mother’s Day was yesterday so, of course, my own journey as a mother is at the forefront of my thoughts. I look at my pregnancy and am amazed at how easy it has been. I chose when I wanted to start my family and when I wanted to add to it. I chose a doctor with whom I connected and felt comfortable. I have a husband who has come to every single doctor’s appointment – no matter how routine. I have parents who watch Bea and support Frank and I as parents. I have never doubted that this pregnancy would be healthy, that my baby would receive proper care, and that I would live through the labor, delivery, and recovery surrounding the birth.
My experience is a far cry from many women’s across the globe. For many, the choice between a home birth and a hospital birth is not a question of how the birthing experience should look, but of practical access to life-saving resources. The Mother & Child Project is a series of essays addressing maternal and child health. While many factors play into the wellbeing of mothers around the world, recurrent themes included access to contraceptives, pre- and antenatal doctor’s visits, and education.
The book is comprised of essays written by doctors, politicians, activists, and entertainers who have taken an interest in global maternal care. I appreciated the range of views and writing styles. Some authors sited statistics medical evidence while others told stories of their own experiences and interactions with mothers facing life-threatening pregnancies due to lack of resources. The variety of voices and experiences gave the book scope that a text or narrative may have missed.
One of the most shocking statistics sited over and over is that a woman dies every two minutes in birth-related complications. Not having access to a hospital; Having babies too close in age; Not enough education in post-natal sexual activity and recovery all contribute to fatal complications for women in rural areas and developing countries. Something as simple as a $5.00 taxi fare to a hospital could prevent many of these deaths. Things that are choices for women with access to good healthcare are life-threatening risks for women without it.
What was most eye-opening for me, living in a comfortable country with access to good health care and choices as a woman, is that our own ideas of contraception and women’s health care have a huge impact on health policies in other countries. Many essays were aimed at reminding the church that contraceptives are not a sin, but a life-saving medical advancement. It’s a bit puzzling to think that our own politics around women’s health could so influence the life and death of women across the world, but it made me stop and think about how my own politics affect not just my own life but those of women I have never met and whose circumstances are vastly different from my own.
The book doesn’t just focus on pregnancy and health care surrounding it. Chapters on child brides, sex trafficking and prostitution, and the role of educating women as a way to combat terrorism were also key points. As an educated, privileged woman raising educated, privileged girls, it was a reminder that women’s health and education are what will change this world.
This is an important book, especially for churches or those involved in ministry. It gives concrete ways the church can help the most vulnerable of our world. If we truly believe in Jesus’ message of helping the least of these, supporting maternal and child healthcare is a logical place to begin.
What is your experience with global maternal health? Have you ever traveled to another part of the world to see these issues first-hand?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of The Mother & Child Project. To enter, leave a comment about what you wonder most about maternal health care. I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, May 15, 2015. (United States addresses only.)