Christy Turlington is the picture of health as a busy mom to daughter Grace, 7, and son Finn, 4-1/2, her kids with actor/director Ed Burns.
But the former supermodel recounts how she could have lost her life to a very rare post-labor complication – postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) – following the birth of Grace in 2003.
PPH is a condition in which the placenta becomes embedded in the uterus, leading to heavy bleeding and infection. When Christy still had not delivered the placenta after an hour, her doctor was called in to physically remove it from the uterine wall.
”It was an excruciatingly painful experience,” Christy recalls. “The delivery of Grace was nothing compared to it and I’d had no pain relief then either.”
Christiy realized the severity of the condition a few years later while on a trip to San Salvador – she learned that PPH contributes to a majority of maternal deaths worldwide in developing countries because many of the women, usually traveling by foot, don’t make it to a hospital on time. “The fact is 90 per cent of these maternal deaths are preventable,” she says.
She also realized that her privileged situation was what saved her life, and she decided to try to help other women who aren’t so fortunate. “I found this so inspiring that I decided the best way to bring these stories to the developed world was to make a documentary, No Woman, No Cry, which I filmed over a year in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the U.S. to raise awareness,” she says.