Maternal and Child Health

It is staggering that a woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy or childbirth—more than 303,000 women each year worldwide. Almost all of these women—99 percent—die in developing countries from conditions we know how to prevent. And for every woman who dies in childbirth, more than 20 women suffer serious injury, such as obstetric fistula—one of the most devastating and serious of all childbirth complications.

That’s why Direct Relief protects women through the critical periods of pregnancy and childbirth.

This support includes ensuring more trained midwives are properly equipped, expanding emergency obstetric care in high-need areas, and supporting life-restoring surgeries for women who suffer the debilitating effects of obstetric fistula—a birth-related injury that affects deeply impoverished women almost exclusively.

4 Ways Direct Relief Helps Moms Thrive

1. Equipping midwives

Having a skilled and equipped provider present at delivery is one of the most critical interventions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Training and equipping midwives with durable equipment and supplies helps them ensure safe births.

2. Supporting healthy pregnancies

Pregnant women and developing babies are particularly vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies, which increase the risk of dying during childbirth or of giving birth to a baby that is preterm, underweight, or impaired. Direct Relief addresses this issue by producing and distributing prenatal vitamins to partner facilities and organizations around the world.

3. Enabling obstetric fistula repair

Obstetric fistula is caused by obstructed labor when women lack access to a skilled birth attendant and emergency obstetric care. Direct Relief’s obstetric fistula programs help find and heal women suffering from this devastating childbirth injury.

4. Increasing access to emergency obstetric care

In approximately 15 percent of pregnancies, an unexpected complication occurs that requires timely access to emergency obstetric services, such as a cesarean delivery.  When women have access to emergency obstetrics care and a skilled birth attendant, rates of maternal death can be reduced by 75 percent.