From the catwalk and magazine covers to healthcare advocate, Christy Turlington has made it her mission to raise awareness about maternal mortality worldwide. The supermodel is the director of the documentary No Woman, No Cry, she is the founder of Every Mother Counts and is the first guest designer of the Ergobaby Designer Series.
The mom-of-two opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her daughter Grace, 9, and son Finn, 6, with husband Ed Burns, running in the upcoming ING New York City Marathon for EMC, and the 280,000 women that die each year due to pregnancy and childbirth, which she adds is “a mother every two minutes.”
CBS: Tell us about teaming up with Ergobaby and the Guest Designer Series benefitting Every Mother Counts (EMC). Please share with us the details of your design and how this cause helps women in need.
CT: “EMC is always looking for ways to reach new audiences, and this partnership was a unique way to get our message out to mothers and the people who love them. I am delighted to be the first guest designer of this Ergobaby Designer Series. It’s been fun to collaborate closely with the Ergobaby design team to create this collection.
The result is a true partnership. Together we were really looking to create something that would connect mothers around the world, and I’m so proud of our final product. Ten percent of the price of each piece will be donated to EMC, and those funds will go toward programs that aim to substantially reduce the rates of maternal mortality globally.”
CBS: We understand you’re also participating in the ING New York City Marathon on November 4. Tell us how you’ll be raising awareness and funds for Every Mother Counts at the marathon.
CT: “Yes, EMC has a team of 50 running the ING New York City Marathon this year, last year we were ten, and we’re hoping to meet our fundraising goal of $280,000. This number has special significance, because it is not only double the amount we raised last year, but it also acknowledges the number of girls and women who die each year due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications.
For us, running the marathon is meant to bring awareness to one of the greatest barriers women around the world face to access basic and emergency obstetric care – distance. Many pregnant women around the world have to walk a minimum of 5 kilometers, often far more, just to seek basic care, even in labor.
The marathon also gives EMC a chance to further engage the supporters we already have by giving them a chance to run with us, raise money for the team, or simply support the effort. We also use this opportunity to educate a new audience about one of the many obstacles women may face in their search for pre and postnatal care.”
CBS: We were profoundly moved by No Woman, No Cry. How did making that epic documentary change your life?
CT: “No Woman, No Cry was an incredible learning experience and led to my founding Every Mother Counts. While pregnant with my second child in 2005, I did a lot of travelling in Central America where I came across many individuals who were successfully helping women rise above the tragic maternal mortality statistics. I wanted to share these stories with the world, the considerable challenges and real solutions.
It was the hope in these stories that inspired, No Woman, No Cry which features stories of real women from my travels to Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the U.S. between 2008 and 2010. I have gone back to each of the countries where we filmed and most of the participants have viewed the film. Once you are a part of someone’s story they are with you forever.”
CBS: It is outrageous that only women in privileged situations shouldn’t have to fear for their lives and the lives of their babies at childbirth. The worldwide maternal mortality rates are unacceptable. Please tell us some of these statistics and how we can help our worldwide sisters.
CT: “Its true that most of these deaths effect marginalized, underserved women but complications related to pregnancy and childbirth can happen to any one of us. Fifteen percent of pregnancies will result in a complication, and we can’t always identify who will experience one, which is why it is so important that every pregnant women have prenatal care and be in close proximity to emergency obstetric care in the event of one.
Take me, I had a perfect pregnancy and delivery and then I hemorrhaged. What I learned after my experience, which was really frightening and eye opening, was that Post-Partum Hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death for girls and women here and in developing countries. Had I not been in the care of competent healthcare professionals, I may have been another statistic.
The total number of girls and women who die each year due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications is 280,000. That’s a mother every two minutes. Even more astounding is that 90% of these deaths are preventable.
Often simple solutions, like transport vouchers to insure women get the care they need before, during and after childbirth, or the training of midwives who can assess a medical emergency can make the biggest difference. So aside from donating to support interventions like these, more inclusive conversations and education of the general public are critical in making more people aware of the problems and the solutions and to build an even stronger base of support for the world’s mothers.”
CBS: Tell us about your recent trip to Africa. What did you and your family take away from that trip?
CT: “I had been waiting to bring my family to Africa for years and determined that when my son was six he would be ready for the adventure. It was beyond my expectations to see them there taking it all in and absorbing the smells and sounds and colors. We all felt incredibly connected throughout the trip because we really shut off the rest of the world to be present with one another there. It was a dream.”
CBS: What did you tell your kids about your important work on No Woman No Cry? Did they feel compelled to get involved/help out?
CT: “They were both quite small still when I began making NWNC, so I kept it very simple to start. I told them that I was helping to save mommies so that their babies could have them to take care of them. They seemed to get the importance of that straight away.
My daughter is particularly proud that it was her coming into the world that changed the course of my life to the extent that it has. My son is always just happy to have me when he has me, but he’s also very generous and doesn’t mind sharing.”
CBS: Can we expect a collaboration between you and husband Ed Burns in the future? Maybe a documentary?
CT: “Well, I wouldn’t say never, but I also can’t imagine what subject would capture both of our hearts in the same way at the same time. Plus, the way we work and travel now works because our projects are our own and we can take turns and share the home responsibilities as we currently do.”