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Maternal Health Awareness: Why It Matters

Maternal health awareness has traditionally focused on maternal mortality, which affects more than 300,000 women every year, but there are many other factors to consider when assessing the health of new mothers and newborns in developing countries around the world. The term maternal health refers to the health of both mother and child, from conception through pregnancy and childbirth to a child’s first five years of life. Maternal health covers not only delivery and early childhood, but also mental health and access to contraception. Read this article to learn more about maternal health awareness, what it means and why it matters.

What is maternal health?

Maternal health is a term that refers to a woman's health prior to, during, and after pregnancy. Globally, over 300,000 women die annually from pregnancy-related causes; 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Half of these maternal deaths are from direct causes (such as haemorrhage), and half are indirect deaths due to conditions arising from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Many more suffer from mental health issues related to maternal mortality or childbearing. The postpartum period can be especially difficult for mothers who have suffered loss or been traumatized by giving birth. Women who develop postpartum depression may experience overwhelming sadness, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, trouble bonding with their child(ren), mood swings and an inability to concentrate or think clearly.

The causes

However, there are some factors that can make women more susceptible to postpartum depression. For example, maternal mental health is associated with preexisting mental disorders and stress during pregnancy. Pregnancy also disrupts circadian rhythms and causes sleep deprivation. And there’s evidence that suggests that a mother’s psychological well-being during pregnancy can influence her child’s development through epigenetic mechanisms or via other molecular interactions between cells in utero.

The effects

According to the World Health Organization, about 303,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth each year – that’s one woman every two minutes. Even more alarming is the estimated number of deaths of women due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth (excluding HIV/AIDS) was 535,000 in 2013. Those are huge numbers. There’s also a large focus on maternal mental health and the effects that postpartum depression can have on mothers and families, as well as society at large. There’s still so much we don’t know about maternal health, but it does seem like there are some things we do know. One thing we do know is that access to maternal healthcare has an impact on maternal mortality rates; specifically, lack of access to medical care during pregnancy has been linked with higher rates of maternal mortality. In fact, according to WHO data from 2015, countries with better access to medical care had lower rates of maternal mortality than those without adequate access.

What can we do about it?

There are several actions we can take to help improve maternal health and increase awareness of maternal mental health. The World Bank suggests countries around the world do a better job at making sure women have access to healthcare providers for screenings, checkups, and treatment of complications that arise in pregnancy. A lack of family planning also contributes to maternal mortality as it can lead women to get pregnant without fully knowing their own physical limitations or carrying children with low birth weights due to factors such as nutrition. Other countries should provide adequate social services to prevent child abuse and domestic violence that often result from unhealthy relationships between partners. Education is another critical component, as many women struggle financially after giving birth because they miss work while they’re on maternity leave or struggle to find employment after returning home. This can be especially true if they don’t live near family members who can help out during recovery time.


In conclusion, when it comes to maternal health awareness society plays a big role in ensuring maternal health is present in every country. Societies should be able to agree on these issues through education, which will help bring about change, rather than trying to fight against societal norms. Maintaining maternal health is vital for the overall welfare of the people of a nation and is something that can only be done when society works together. It’s been said many times before, but it bears repeating: When it comes to healthcare—particularly maternal healthcare—one size does not fit all. For example, while one woman may struggle with anemia during pregnancy (which impacts her physical health), another woman may find herself dealing with depression (which impacts her mental health). There are also some women who deal with both mental and physical complications at once.

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