How Will You Celebrate?

Mother and her daughter in Uganda

Less than a year ago, I delivered my first baby. I experienced a very long labor, requiring more medical interventions than I’d hoped for. But I was lucky. I’d created a birth plan ahead of time, deciding how much medical intervention I wanted, knowing that if something went wrong, I’d have access to medical care without a problem. 

I feel incredibly grateful for the care I received and for the choices I was able to make along the way. They allowed me to have a safe delivery and a healthy baby boy. 

Sarah Lance and her newborn son

Like so many new parents, my son has given me insights into the meaning of life and true appreciation for loved ones supporting me on this great adventure. He’s also given me a greater personal connection to the work I do with Pathfinder International.

As a program officer, supporting projects like Merck for Mothers in India, I have seen the extreme obstacles women around the world have to face during pregnancy and childbirth. 

Did you know that every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth? That’s one woman every 2 minutes. 99 percent of these maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

Take, for example, Vidhya’s story. After delivering her third child, Vidhya couldn’t stop bleeding. But her doctors did not know how to help her. Would she survive the horrific journey to another hospital—her body bouncing over unpaved roads for hours in the dark? Once she got there, would her husband have enough money to buy her blood for a transfusion? Her life was out of her hands.

No woman should have her or her child’s future stolen because she can’t access maternal health care.

So on my first Mother’s Day as a mom, I ask you to celebrate with me—celebrate your mother, grandmother, your baby, and reflect back on your personal birth experiences. I also ask you to pause from your celebration to consider the thousands of mothers who will be missing this Sunday, those who have died needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth.

We know what to do to save these women’s lives. There’s no excuse for inaction. 

Sarah Lance

Sarah Lance

Sarah Lance is a program officer, supporting Pathfinder’s sexual and reproductive health programs in China, Egypt, India, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.

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