Most of us know Christy Turlington from the catwalk, magazine spreads and television commercials. But the model mom-of-two is taking on a much different role these days: public health advocate and director of No Woman, No Cry, a documentary about maternal mortality worldwide.
This new mission began when the supermodel experienced complications after the birth of her first child, now 7-year-old daughter Grace. While she received the necessary treatments, she realized that other women around the world do not have access to adequate healthcare services as it relates to pregnancy and childbirth.
Christy recalls her own story with Every Mother Counts.
After delivering my daughter Grace seven and a half years ago, in 2003, I began to hemorrhage. I had an ideal pregnancy and subsequent first-birth experience, but I was completely unprepared for a complication after delivery. In the weeks that followed, I learned that I was not alone and that many of my friends had in fact experienced some kind of complication. Then, a few weeks later, I learned that the same complication I had endured was the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. I learned that hundreds of thousands of women die each year in pregnancy and childbirth, but that 90% of these deaths are preventable. I don’t know that I made the decision then to focus all of my energy on this subject, but it was certainly the beginning.”
More than 343,000 women die every year of complications from pregnancy or childbirth – which is one death every 90 seconds – and 90% of these deaths are preventable. Christy says these statistics are unacceptable, and we must support our worldwide sisters.
“For each woman that dies, there are roughly 10-20 that will suffer lifelong childbirth debilitation,” the 42-year-old mom says. “I think what continues to motivate me is the fact that almost all of these deaths are preventable. How many pandemics can we say that about? We know how to prevent these deaths, and we are not waiting for a cure.”
If you have a voice, you must use it, as there are millions of girls and women around the world who cannot use their voices. If we come together with a unified voice, we can influence our leadership to follow through on past commitments and to continue making this issue a priority to insure healthy moms and healthy babies so that families around the world can thrive.”
Want to get involved? “I created the Every Mother Counts website and campaign to provide a resource for those who want to do more,” Christy says. “Maternal health is an issue that should resonate with everyone and does for so many once they know the facts. I want to continue to share information and progress with those who want to know more and get involved. At Every Mother Counts, we offer a number of ways people can participate and contribute in meaningful ways. I believe we all have our own unique set of skills to offer and hope that we can help to inspire others to find their own way to contribute.”
Check out Christy’s humanitarian efforts and her documentary, No Woman, No Cry,which will premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Saturday May 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm ET/PT.