Pregnancy should be a cause for joy, not tears

Madeleine Bunting – Globe and Mail, Johannesburg – Thurs 10 July, 2008

Fourteen years ago this week, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. I was nervous — it was my second pregnancy and I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t lose this one — and I worried what a child might mean for my life.

But at least I did not have to worry about losing my life. The lottery of childbirth ended in my family two generations ago when maternal mortality in the United Kingdom dramatically improved in the 1930s. The legacy of that great breakthrough is that pregnancy is now usually a cause for celebration, not an occasion to write a will.

What prompted the recollection of an anniversary I’ve not noticed before was the realisation that what I relied on, as a matter of course, is regarded as a luxury in most of the developing world: skilled midwives, an obstetrician and operating theatre if needed, and the antibiotics and drugs that ensured that, 14 years and another two births later, I’m still around to bring up my children. Basic, everyday stuff in the developed world.

But not so in Sub-Saharan Africa . . .

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