Ronda Kaysen: Well folks, if you want to live in a place where it's good to be a mom, you're living in the wrong country. America ranked 28th out of 160 countries in Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers report.
American moms are worse off than last year, when the country ranked 27th on the list. We can thank our shockingly high maternal-mortality rate for that: One in every 4,800 American women dies due to pregnancy. It's one of the highest maternal-morbidity rates in the developed world. To put that number into perspective, in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Greece and Italy, the risk of maternal death is less than one in 25,000 -- and in Ireland, it's less than one in 47,600.
But it's not just American moms who die due to pregnancy: American babies don't fare so well, either. Our infant-mortality rate is pretty dismal for the developed world, with eight out of every 1,000 children dying before their fifth birthdays. A child born in the U.S. is more than twice as likely as a child born in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his fifth birthday. Also, the U.S. has the least-generous maternity-leave policy of any developed country, fewer women in elected government positions than other developed countries and fewer kids enrolled in preschool.
What gives? This is pretty grim Mother's Day news. (Save the Children puts the report out in honor of the holiday.) Granted, the struggles that American moms face are nothing compared to those of moms in countries that rank among the bottom 10. In Ethiopia, for example, only six percent of births are attended by a professional; in Niger, one in every seven women will die from pregnancy or childbirth.
But as a developed and wealthy country, we should be doing better than this. There's no reason for our maternity-leave policy to be worse than that of every other developed country in the world, for example. The fact that we've been downgraded from last year is just pathetic. With all the attention focused on the health-care debate, we should do some serious thinking about why having a baby here is a far more dangerous endeavor than it is in countries that spend far less than we do on health care.
If this news has you thinking about jumping ship for a rosier motherhood experience -- and neither Norway nor Australia cut it for you -- I'll leave you with the eight other countries that made the top 10: Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.