With Mother’s Day around the corner, here at 1,000 Days we’ve been thinking about what moms really need. At the top of our list:
- Quality, affordable health care
- Time to care for themselves and their babies
- Good nutrition from healthy foods
- Support from the community
We’d like to highlight one of these priorities – quality, affordable health care – and the key role that it plays for moms everywhere.
The Importance of Quality, Affordable Health Care
Comprehensive health care is foundational to a woman’s health and well-being before, during and after pregnancy. All women need access to prenatal care, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks and months after childbirth. However, too many moms are not getting the care they need. About 6% of women in America receive late or no prenatal care, and as many as 40% of women do not attend a postpartum visit (with lower rates among women with limited resources). In low-income countries around the world, close to two-thirds of pregnant women miss out on the recommended prenatal care visits.
Gaps in access to care or poor quality of care can have tragic consequences. Across the globe, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day. In the United States, an estimated 700 women die from these causes each year, and some women are more likely to die than others. The disparities in maternal death are striking, with black women dying at more than 3 times the rate of white women.
The good news is that many maternal deaths can be prevented. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths in America are preventable – no matter a woman’s race/ethnicity or whether the death occurs during pregnancy, delivery, or after birth.
Globally, there is a recognition that greater attention to maternal mortality is urgently needed – and nutrition must be part of that discussion. Of the 5 pregnancy complications that account for nearly 75% of all maternal deaths, 3 are related to nutrition (severe bleeding, pre-eclampsia, premature labor) and their risk can be mitigated with better nutrition. It’s critical to strengthen health systems and ensure they are providing women with high impact nutrition interventions before, during and after pregnancy, including multiple micronutrient supplements, diet and nutrition counseling, as well as breastfeeding counseling and support.
In the U.S. and around the globe, we need to do more to ensure that no mother’s life is cut short due to preventable causes.
Advancing a Vision for a Healthier First 1,000 Days
Here at 1,000 Days, we are fighting to make sure all moms get what they need to thrive. One critical part of this is working to increase investments in women’s preconception, prenatal, and postpartum health, with a focus on the most disadvantaged. We believe that every woman should have access to comprehensive health coverage and benefits – no matter who she is or where she lives.
On Mother’s Day and every day, all moms deserve a healthy first 1,000 days. Let’s honor all of the moms in our lives by giving them what they need: quality, affordable health care.