According to The CIA's World Factbook (www.cia.gov):
In Angola, Africa, 175 babies out of 1,000 born alive each year die before their first birthday.
In Afghanistan, Asia, 149 out of 1,000 infants die every year.
Niger, Africa is estimated at 112 out of every 1,000 babies .
Save the Children finds that 4 million (4,000,000) babies around the world die every year within the first month of life (savethechildren.net). This means that before a newborn has the chance to turn 4 weeks old, he dies. Most of these deaths are due to birth complications, pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, and malaria.
"1500 mothers and 10,000 newborns die every day due to complications that could have been prevented just with the presence of a skilled birth attendant." -- Compassion Int'l. Child Survival (rescuebabiesnow.org)
Now, childbirth is not normally a dangerous event. It is a normal, natural process, one in which we have been doing since the beginning of time. But sometimes complications do come up, most of which can be avoided. (For instance: keeping baby clean and warm, using sterile instruments during delivery and repair, having the right knowledge and medicine in order to avoid dehydration or pneumonia.)
In the U.S. (and other wealthier societies), we are lucky enough to not only have proper health and maternity care, but we also have access to out own personal labor companions: Doulas! Most of us in westernized countries are able to spend hours writing out a birth plan so that not only our needs are met, but our special desires are considered as well. We can not only pick out our provider and caregiver, but we can also choose the place, the drugs, the food, the clothes, and the comforts we wish to use. And the best part about it: we don't have to pay for most of it! That's what our lovely insurance is for.
Some say we are "lucky". Others say we are "blessed". And still others say we are "spoiled". Whatever it is we are, I believe it is extremely important for us to actually look around at our reality and see how much we really have. We all to often forget how fortunate we are to have access to clean water, enough food, and proper health care.
I have a passion for childbirth. I also have a passion for the lost and needy around the world. I love being a childbirth advocate! And I believe that a woman should enjoy her pregnancy and baby's birth. But I also believe that a woman should have the right and the access to a healthy birth, followed by a thriving baby, no matter where on the earth she is. I believe that the proper help and decent care should not be limited to us wealthier societies, and that childbirth need not be a scary, life threatening event for anyone, no matter where they live. And some day soon, I will play a larger part in the physical change I want to see in maternity health care worldwide.
Until then, I do not want to focus so much on my comfortable life here, that I forget about the reality of the world around me. I do not want a day to go by when I am not truly grateful for all the blessings I have.