Too many women around the world are literally dying to give birth

While women in the U.S. debate about whether home, hospital, vaginal or C-section births are better--women in Guinea-Bissau are just hoping to make it out of their birthing experience alive. You see, the western African country is one of the deadliest places on earth to give birth. One in 19 women die during childbirth there, compared to 1 in 2,100 here. At the local hospital where women give birth, a poster taped above a bunch of chairs reads: "Give life without dying." Sadly, most moms can't even read the message, as 60 percent of the women in Guinea-Bissau are illiterate. 

The whole concept is so tragic that it makes me feel shameful about the amount of time we waste complaining about our first-world problems. 


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Picture this: A 32-year-old woman gives birth to her fourth child alone at home and in the dark. Her oblivious 74-year-old husband doesn't even realize what's going on until he hears the baby crying. When she gets to the hospital, with her newborn daughter still attached, she has already lost a lot of blood because she didn't deliver the placenta after giving birth. About 12 hours after she arrives in the hospital, she begins to convulse and every attempt to safe her is futile. The woman dies leaving four children motherless and under the care of her elderly widower. 

Although the United Nations reported recently that things have gotten much better for pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is still dire. Hospitals don't have power to refrigerate blood donations or to run incubators for premature babies. The only time generators get turned on is when a surgery is being performed.

And Guinea-Bissau is not even the country with the highest mortality rate: Afghanistan, Somolia and Chad come before it. Try to imagine, then, what the conditions are like there?

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Solving this tragic situation is no easy task, but maybe we should start by realizing how ridiculous we all sound when we spend countless hours debating attachment parenting, breastfeeding, uncoventional childbirth options and other first-world problems when so many women around the world are dying just by giving birth.

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Image via Getty Images

Topics: childbirth  labor  high-risk pregnancy