• Lou Magrone

Four Countries with Advanced Maternal Health Commitments

Even though we as Americans enjoy many freedoms and liberties that aren’t shared by people in our world community, one place we are certainly lagging in is maternal health. According to the Save the Children’s State of the Mothers report, the United States ranks last in ranking for maternal health for moms in developed countries. Here, a woman expecting a baby faces a 1 in 1,800 risk of maternal death.

When we look at other countries, there are certain things we can learn for both a safe pregnancy and birth for both mother and child. A few things to look at specifically are access to healthcare, options for support, and work expectations. Below are a few countries including Norway and New Zealand that offer exciting case studies.


The Scandinavian portion of Europe is known for its healthcare, and maternal health is no exception. Norway specifically offers a generous maternity leave plan that extends for 49 weeks at full pay or 59 weeks at 80 percent pay. Also, moms have options to choose between midwife or an obstetrician, and even further, the government subsidizes the entire pregnancy.

New Zealand

New Zealand comes in at #17 on Save the Children’s list and has many of the same benefits of Norway. All maternal care is free to mothers, and again, they are given the option to choose between a midwife and obstetrician. Prenatal care also tends to be as non-invasive as possible. Women are truly able to determine what course their pregnancy they wish to take by having a “Lead Maturity Carer.” Assigned by the government, this person helps women decide on where and how to have their children.


Coming in at #2 on Save the Children’s list, this Scandinavian country boasts a meager under-5 mortality rate (2.6 deaths per 1,000 live births) and an even lower lifetime risk of maternal death (1 in 15,100). The government heavily subsidizes maternal care like the other countries on this list and post pregnancy; mothers receive many options as well.


Japan is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. There are only .9 deaths per 1,000 babies in their first 28 days of life, and many women stop working when they become pregnant. Women even receive a badge indicating they are pregnant which comes in handy for sitting in public transportation and other civic responsibilities.

To learn more about maternal care, visit

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