25/03/2017 13:40 GMT | Updated 26/03/2018 06:12 BST

Giving The Gift Of Life This Mother's Day

Imagine a role in which you didn't need a degree or any prior experience, but your hours were non-negotiable and your contract of employment would be valid for the rest of your life. As mothers, millions of women fulfil this role across the globe however, their ability to have a safe and happy pregnancy and birth depend greatly on where they are in the world. Sadly, it is still the case that millions of women do not have access to safe and adequate health care facilities.

According to the World Health Organisation, 287,000 women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth . For every women who dies in childbirth, 20 women suffer from injury, infection and/or disease during childbirth - an additional seven million women every year. 99 % of these women live in developing countries, with Sub-Saharan Africa having the highest rate of maternal deaths in the world - 640 deaths per 100,000 live births significantly higher than the 17 deaths per 100,000 in developed regions. Additionally, one million children die as a result of the death of their mothers.

Since 2002, Maternity Worldwide has worked to reduce the number of women dying or injured in childbirth in three Sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. We have a strong focus on sustainability and work with local health professionals and communities to ensure the safety of both mother and child.

Take Ayantu, she's twenty and lives in a small village in the West Wollega area of Ethiopia. From her village it is almost two hours walk to the nearest health centre. The long distances involved is just one of a number of reasons why the vast majority of women in rural Ethiopia don't attend a health clinic for ante-natal care and give birth at home without being able to access skilled help from a midwife or doctor.

Ayantu had not been to the local health clinic but had heard about Maternity Worldwide's Safe Place of Birth Project from other women in her village. This project enables women to have an ante-natal check-up, ultrasound and develop an effective, risk based referral process so that pregnant women can deliver their babies safely and in the most appropriate location. The project began in October 2011 and since then has identified 238 women as being at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition during childbirth.

The opportunity to have an ultrasound scan is very rare in Ethiopia so Ayantu decided to attend the clinic. The ultrasound scan showed that her baby was in a transverse position (lying sideways) which meant that she would require an emergency caesarean. The risk to Ayantu was further increased by the fact she is only 1.43m (four foot eight), and that this was her first baby.

At the hospital, Ayantu safely delivered a baby boy with the help of a highly skilled volunteer obstetrician from Maternity Worldwide who was able to carry out the caesarean delivery she needed. Both mother and baby were healthy and were able to go home three days later. If Ayantu had delivered her baby at home, as she originally planned, then there is a very strong possibility Ayantu and her baby would have died.

Ayantu wants to help other local women and now speaks at Maternity Worldwide's health promotion sessions of how the staff and services at the health centre and hospital had enabled her to give birth safely and bring home her healthy baby boy.

So this Mother's Day, help mothers like Ayantu by giving your loved one a Maternity Worldwide gift certificate. Gifts include a Safe Birth Certificate (£15) and a Women's Empowerment Training Certificate (£30). We will personalise the certificate with a special message and you will have helped to save the life of a mother and her baby in Africa. Certificates can be sent directly to your loved one or to you by email or post.

To purchase a Maternity Worldwide certificate please visit

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