I became a global maternal health advocate the day I became a mother.

I gave birth to my daughter Grace on October 23, 2003. I was healthy throughout my pregnancy and had plenty of provider and facility options to ensure the birth experience I imagined for myself. My husband and I chose our very capable midwife to deliver our baby in a hospital birthing center just a few miles from home. I felt so well-prepared for everything, except for what occurred after she was born. My placenta was retained and could not expel itself so it had to be removed. As a result, I lost a few liters of blood. While the active management of this complication was painful, I never feared for my life because I had confidence in my midwife and others who worked together to stabilize me. Without access to this critical and timely care, I may not be here today. Many other women are not as lucky.

Becoming a mother has been a life-transforming experience in so many ways. My birth experience led me on a journey with maternal health as a central focus.

Motherhood has opened a world of knowledge and connection with other women that has ignited a sense of profound responsibility in me to prepare other women for the unexpected events that make pregnancy and childbirth unsafe for millions of others around the world.

There is a lot we already know about how to prevent pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, but not enough political will or resources dedicated to this issue. The belief that knowledge is power is only true if it is clear what needs to be done to make change and, ultimately, to prevent unnecessary or harmful events if we can. My story is not exceptional nor is it as rare or uncommon as many might think. My story is not the beginning, and not even close to the end.

Every Mother Counts was created to raise awareness and to educate the public about an issue that touches us all, but one that not enough people know about until it’s too late.

Every mother has a story. It’s our job at Every Mother Counts to make sure that these stories are documented and shared widely so that others will learn from them and one day, these tragedies will be stories of the past. 

—Christy Turlington Burns,
Founder, Every Mother Counts