Not so great to be a Mom in the U.S.

[deleted account] ( 23 moms have responded )

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States has scored poorly on a campaign group's list of the best countries in which to be a mother, managing only 28th place, and bettered by many smaller and poorer countries.

Norway topped the latest Save the Children "Mothers Index", followed by a string of other developed nations, while Afghanistan came in at the bottom of the table, below several African states.

But the US showing put it behind countries such as the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and eastern and central European states such as Croatia and Slovenia.

Even debt-plagued Greece came in four places higher at 24.

One factor that dragged the US ranking down was its maternal mortality rate, which at one in 4,800 is one of the highest in the developed world, said the report.

"A woman in the Unites States is more than five times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland," the report said.

It also scored poorly on under-five mortality, its rate of eight per 1,000 births putting it on a par with Slovakia and Montenegro.

"At this rate, a child in the US is more than twice as likely as a child in Finland, Iceland, Sweden or Singapore to die before his or her fifth birthday," the report noted.

Only 61 percent of children were enrolled in preschool, which on this indicator made it the seventh-lowest country in the developed world, it said.

And it added: "The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy -- both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid -- of any wealthy nation."

Norway headed the list of developed countries at the top of the list of best places to be a mother, followed by Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

At the bottom was Afghanistan, followed by Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

"While the situation in the United States needs to improve, mothers in the developing world are facing far greater risks to their own health and that of their children," said Save the Children's Mary Beth Powers.

"The shortage of skilled birth attendants and challenges in accessing birth control means that women in countries at the bottom of the list face the most pregnancies and the most risky birth situations, resulting in newborn and maternal deaths," she added.

Save the Children compiled the index after analyzing a range of factors affecting the health and well-being of women and children, including access to health care, education and economic opportunities.

Thus Norway came top because women there are paid well, access to contraception is easy and the country has one of the generous most maternity leave policies in the world.

Afghanistan however came last because of its high levels of infant mortality and the fact that it had the lowest female life expectancy and the worst rate of primary education for females in the world.

The report recommended more funding for women's and girls' education and better access to maternal and child health care, particularly in the developing world.

In the United States and other industrialised nations, it called on governments and communities to work together to improve education and health for disadvantaged mothers and children.



Stephany - posted on 06/16/2010




@Sara- Preschool is about much more than education, though. It better prepares a child for school by providing a safe, fun environment to learn social skills and how to handle a structured environment around other kids. I used to have a list somewhere- I'll try to find it- that showed the skills kindergarten teachers expect incoming students to have. Very few had to do with numbers and letters. Most were things like "stop talking when asked", "be able to sit for 30 minutes", "not be overly distracted by other kids", etc. These are things that are hard to teach at home with no other kids around. Besides, being in a structured social environment before age 5 better allows teachers and parents to recognize learning challenges before the pressures of kindergarten (and the beaurocratic IEP process) is in the mix. The sooner a child is diagnosed with these issues, the better for everyone involved.

Charlie - posted on 06/16/2010




Yay go Aussies LOL.

I know how lucky we have it here and how much better it will be when paid maternity is put in place , other than that nearly all parents receive some kind of benefits in Australia whether its the baby bonus , childcare rebates , or parenting / family tax benefits as well as a great health care system and bulk billing services , and as a Kindergarden teacher there is a huge marked difference in the children that go to preschool ( not childcare ) and those that dont entering school .

Oh and i also love after birth we have regular , free , visits at home from midwives to help us out with any questions or just to give us 5 minutes to have a shower LOL and they were fantastic at helping me with breastfeeding and calming any first time mother nerves i had with Cooper .

Brandy - posted on 06/16/2010




Ok, so we are number 20 and for the women who were wondering, UK is number 14. Good for you! I'm pretty happy with the benefits my country provides me with for being a mother. Of course, as in most situations, there is always room for improvement!

[deleted account]

I agree with Sara Dodson about pregnancy intervention and maternity leave. It *seems* (correct me if I'm wrong) that in other countries new mothers get a lot of support from the government. I think I've seen mention of health care workers visiting a new mom in her home? I also wonder if our fast paced society causes more babies to be formula fed, as breastfeeding can sometimes be frustrating and difficult in the beginning.

About pre-school, I only know of one free pre-school program and that is only available to people on welfare. To an average income family like mine, pre-school is too expensive. I don't know how it is in other areas in the US, but around here I suspect that's why pre-school attendance is low.


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Sarah - posted on 06/17/2010




Our Statutory Maternity Leave is 26 weeks paid, and then an additional 26 weeks unpaid. (I think!)
All the hospital, midwife, health visitors etc etc are free.
Seeing the doctor and prescriptions are free (up until you leave full time education I think)
Dentist is free.
Child care you get some free sessions from the age of 3.

[deleted account]

I'm joining Loureen's bandwagon here (figure of speech).

Here in New Zealand, you have to have worked for your company for at least 6 months before you are entitled to Paid Parental Leave. You can take up to 12month materninty leave with only 14 weeks being paid for, the rest is unpaid leave.

During that time you have a midwife (which is free), birth in hospital (free again), then you have your midwife who makes at least two house visits before Plunket comes in (another service that is free, Plunket nurses see you up until your child is 5 years old. They see you from 4-6 weeks, 6-9 weeks, 10-15 weeks, 4-7months, 8-13months,14-20months,2 2.5 years, 3.5years and finally 4.5 years before school)
Childrens doctor visits are also free, up untill the age of 5. Dentist visits are also free up until the age of 18.

We get help with child care, when the child is between 0-3 years you can get 9 hours free child care, then when they are between 3-4 we get 20 hours free child care. Thats if you earn under a certain amount a week/annum

Brandy - posted on 06/16/2010




Hmmm, I'll have to look that up and see where Canada stands. I believe we are pretty high on the list. Check back here once I know...

[deleted account]

I'm intruiged as to where the UK ranked. I must say though from what I've read on COM more mams from the US have to return to work compared to the number of women in the UK. Over here we have so many different benefits that in 2 parent families it is very easy to live comfortabley with one parent working whislt the other stays home.

[deleted account]

Teresa, in Texas. I worked for a preschool/daycare ran by my university in Ohio. I would have sent my daughter there in a heartbeat. The teachers all had at least a Bachelor's. The school was child-centered not here do this work sheet. I moved to Texas and worked at a preschool while I was waiting for the teacher hiring season to roll around. It was awful. The teachers were mean. Many (even lead teachers) had nothing more than a high school diploma. The curriculum was created by the corporation and every school was supposed to be the same. The kids pretty much did worksheet type activities. As an adult, I was bored out of my mind and the kids were too and acted out behaviorally. These preschools were not screening for any type of learning, development, etc issues. It makes me sick to think about these preschools and there's no way I would send my daughter there. I know the other aspects of preschool. I know about child development and the need to socialize. I know what kindergarten teachers are looking for (like I said, degree in Education). I have friends with kids the same age as my daughter. She loves playing with them (well near them right now :)). If I find better options around here I might consider it and even then I would probably only want to do a few times a week for a few hours. Like Sara said, it's also expensive which is probably why a lot of kids don't attend.

Amy - posted on 06/16/2010




It doesn't surprise me the least either. The thing about maternity leave pay is hard to judge because at each company it'll be different. For my first pregnancy I got paid 80% but this time I will actually get 100%.

It would be nice to have more than 6 weeks for natural and 8 weeks for c-section. At least have the option of it. With my first he was so colic that I was more than ready to go back to work after 6 weeks.

I do wish that the US had better breastfeeding laws, etc. Although with the new health care bill that has changed for the better.

And I do second the previous comments about getting more support while pregnant. The hospital bills alone are insane (And that's with health insurance).

[deleted account]

Sherri, that is pretty pitiful when you look at what other countries provide. And the fact that it's unpaid won't encourage many women to use it. Most of us need all the money we can get!

Sherri - posted on 06/16/2010




The Family and Medical Leave Act, which was passed in 1993, applies to companies that employ 50 or more people within a 75-mile radius of the workplace. It says that if you have been employed for at least one year by the company you now work for, and work at least 25 hours a week, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in any 12-month period for the birth of your baby. All 12 weeks of maternity leave can be taken at the same time or they can be broken up over the course of the year before or after the birth of your baby. Under this law, you must be restored to an equivalent position with equal benefits when you return.

[deleted account] says in the article that we ranked about those in poverty like the 3rd world countries...afganistan was dead last I beleive

[deleted account]

Where can you be a preschool teacher w/ only a high school diploma? An aide, yes... for 2 more years (then you need an AA), but not a teacher. At least not in Hawaii and our school system is one of the worst (if not THE worst) in the country....

Sorry, that's the only part of this conversation I have any input on. lol!

Stephany - posted on 06/16/2010




I'm really not surprised. Taking the "United States" label out of the equation, what would you think of a country that provides few legal mandates for maternity leave (only companies with more than a certain number of employees are required to allow maternity leave- 6 weeks, and no companies are required to provide paid maternity leave); asks people to fork over thousands and thousands of dollars for medical bills associated with pregnancy and delivery (even WITH insurance often times); and has a disproportionately terrible infant-mortality rate. Seriously, we are in a bad situation here in the U.S. Over one third of all deliveries are via cesarean section- one of the worst stats in the world. Most developed countries offer mom and/or dad time home with baby- paid- for at least 6 months. We're lucky to get 6 weeks- unpaid- then we have to find an appropriate childcare provider or give up working altogether- on top of the added financial stress of medical bills and all the things you have to buy for baby. Through it all, more children die here in the first 5 years of life than in almost every other developed country. We're doing so many things wrong that I can't believe anyone would question this ranking.
We need several remedies: 1. If the government will not create a system to allow for paid maternity leave, there should be a mandated matching system for employees. They should be allowed to have an account in which they can save a certain amount of money that the government matches. For example, if Jane saved $1000 for the year, then the government should match 50%- $500. There should be a max, and this money could only be accessed if and when that employee needs maternity or paternity time from work- with a newly allowable 6 months off (including for adoptive parents); 2. We should have a health insurance system for pregnant women and children that would allow a woman to "buy in" to an insurance program once pregnant. The premiums would be on a sliding scale according to income, and the care would be provided by midwives and OBGYNs alike. This would solve several issues: more medical care during pregnancy has shown to improve infant-mortality rates, but since so many people are afraid of medical costs, many women now only seek the bare minimum. Also, studies show that women who seek prenatal care from midwives are significantly less likely to have a cesarean section. We need to increase the number of midwives in this country and embrace their vast knowledge and time-proven methods of child birth, while improving our ridiculous c-section stats. Under this plan every other prenatal appointment would be with a midwife. We would be lowering the medical costs, increasing quality care, and improving infant mortality rates all at once; 3. We should have state-run co-op daycare facilities. Fees could, again, be on a sliding scale and be offset according to parent involvement in the facility. This would accomplish several things- it would provide consistent, quality childcare with qualified individuals who have been thoroughly screened, it would provide a lower-cost option for child care for working parents, and it could provide the opportunity for parents to meet and support other parents going through the same issues and struggles as they are. Notice I did not say it would be mandated- private daycare/childcare facilities would still be available for those who would prefer that option. This system would over throw the current system many states have in which they pay for a certain amount of child care for low-income working parents. These are just a few ideas I have had- I'm sure there are millions of things our country can do to improve our standing on this and many other lists.

[deleted account]

I don't see why preschool is a factor. I'm undecided as to whether I'm going to send my daughter to preschool. The preschools in my area are not very good. I have a degree in education and I could do a lot better job then sending her to teachers who only have a high school diploma (otherwise I wasted four years in college lol). There is a lot of intervention when it comes to pregnancy and it's treated more as a disease. That may be why the maternal mortality rate is so high. And 6 weeks is not nearly long enough for maternity leave. If I went back to work at 6 weeks I would've been fired for falling asleep. I was so exhausted. I wonder what children under 5 are dying from?

*Lisa* - posted on 06/16/2010




Wow I find that really hard to believe! Surely being a mum in a 3rd world country would be far worse?

[deleted account]

After joining CoM and meeting moms from all over the place this does not surprise me in the least!

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