Return to Newsroom & Events > Get Connected

Tick Tock

by ACNM Guest Blogger Jennifer Williams, CNM

The media has been abuzz lately as the world’s population hits seven billion. In 1999, the world population was six billion. I would like to joke that delivering a billion babies in 12 years explains why all of the midwives and obstetricians I know are perpetually tired and need a nap, but the reality is that a significant proportion of these births were not attended by trained maternity care providers, and birth presents a real risk to many women’s health and lives.

According to the World Health Organization,1500 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every day. That’s more than one woman for each minute that ticks by on the clock. That’s about 536,000 women a year, or more than the population of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This includes young teenagers attempting to have their first babies and mothers of several children already who die in their 20s, 30s, or 40s. Many of these women bleed to death, or die of infection.

Another 10 million women suffer each year from long-term pregnancy complications, such as fistulas. These deaths and injuries are nearly unheard of in industrialized countries. Here in the United States, one of our main criticisms of obstetric care is that there are too many cesarean births. Compare this to so many women dying around the world because they lack access to basic maternity care. Granted, we have our own problems, but these numbers and the reality faced by women birthing around the world are simply shocking.

I would like to invite each of us to sit down and think about maternity and women’s health care and how our own reality differs from what so many other women experience. Not just in the care we give, but the care we receive. I have two daughters who have access to education, medical care, and contraception. They are lucky, lucky girls, because plenty of girls around the world do not have these luxuries.

As I write this, I’m sitting and looking out the window, watching trees release their red and yellow leaves.

Five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes.

Five women dead, 10 women dead, 20 women dead.

Girls, teens, mothers.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

You cannot separate midwifery from advocacy any more than you can separate a bee from its stinger and expect it to live. I challenge myself and each one of you to help out one of many organizations that do amazing, lifesaving work for women and families around the world. When you write your holiday gift lists, include these groups. Which groups do you support or suggest other midwives support?

By the way, Save the Children is looking for an American midwife to join their staff and other US health professionals on a trip to Guatemala December 5 – 9, 2011. This is an opportunity to see Save the Children programs up close and become an advocate for maternal and child health globally. Learn more about that trip here. ACNM's Department of Global Outreach (DGO) has more than three decades of experience strengthening the capacity of midwives and other health care professionals in developing countries. Learn more about DGO.

Jennifer Williams, CNM, graduated from Frontier Nursing University in 2003 and has the great honor of catching babies with the most talented and highly attractive group of midwives and physicians in the southwest. She and her patient husband have four children, who are all brilliant, of course. She is easily amused, persistently optimistic, and never bored.
Posted 11/10/2011 10:08:25 AM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


© 2014 American College of Nurse-Midwives. All Rights Reserved. 8403 Colesville Rd, Suite 1550 • Silver Spring MD 20910 • Phone: 240-485-1800 • Fax: 240-485-1818