Election 2008 and International Maternal Mortality

So I thought I would be blogging about birth, breastfeeding or some other mothering type issue. Thoughts on these issues is usally what occupies the majority of my brain space. Lately I have been preoccupied thinking about the Canadian election that is taking place tomorrow and the direction our country will be heading in. Of course it is related to women, birth and breastfeeding because everything is intertwined – particularly when talking about politics.  Harper’s record on women’s rights is not comforting and given that it looks like the conservatives will likely form a minority government I wonder how much worse things will get?

Ahhh…but life has a way of bringing us perspective. I just received s story from the Washington Post about a mother who died in childbirth in Sierra Leone and that states that the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is 1 in 8! 1 in 8?  How does that happen? Fatmata’s story is heartbreaking and unbelievable in that it happens to other women over and over again.  Here is the link to the article


It is astonishing the maternal mortality rate in the developing world. The fact that giving birth can be a death sentance to so many women in this day and age just doesn’t seem right. Lack of sanitation, medical facilities, training and lack of international attention are all to blame. An important campaign that I have supported for some time is the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.  It is a coalition to raise awarenss of the need for safe motherhood for all women, particularly in developing nations where death and birth are too often related events. Here is the link


I urge you to support the White Ribbon Alliance and to feel outraged that mothers are dying all over the world. It shouldn’t be happening and it doesn’t need to happen. What happens to these children when their mother’s die? Where do they go and what do they do? What does it mean for a nation like Sierra Leone to have so many of their children growing up without a mother?  And for the girl children who some day face the same risks that their mother’s face if they give birth?

Birth should not be a death sentance. Health care is a human right for everyone.

Please add your name to the letter to ask global leaders to make women’s health during pregnancy and childbirth a political issues. Sign the letter here:


Tomorrow in my own country I hope that Canadians vote for community, the environment, and a fairer more just Canada.



  1. anna said,

    October 18, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Hi Shawna,
    It’s absolutely horrifying that the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is one in eight. As Heather Cushman-Dowdee points out on her blog (mama-is.com), the same article compares Sierra Leone’s statistics to those in other countries, and uses Ireland and the U.S. as two examples. Ireland’s maternal mortality rate, the author points out, is 1 in 48,000, and in the U.S., it’s 1 in 4,800. Both are obviously far better than Sierra Leone’s, that’s not the issue; but look — ten times more women are dying in the U.S. than in Ireland! That should be a Washington Post article of its own!
    Here’s her blog post:

  2. doulamama said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Anna – yes, I absolutely agree. It is appalling. Can you link me to the blog post again? I don’t think it showed up

  3. anna said,

    October 21, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Maybe wordpress doesn’t allow links in the comments? I’ll disguise it:
    www DOT mama-is DOT com SLASH maternal-mortality-rates — try that?

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