Maternal health

Parents with their newborn baby in a maternity ward, Mexico.

WHO updates guidance to help healthcare workers prevent postpartum haemorrhage

20 December 2018 – Every year about 14 million women around the world suffer from postpartum haemorrhage. This severe bleeding after birth is the largest direct cause of maternal deaths. In addition to the suffering and loss of women’s lives, when women die in childbirth, their babies also face a much greater risk of dying within one month compared to babies whose mothers survive. WHO has now updated its 2012 guidance on the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage with four new recommendations on seven uterotonics.

Parents with their newborn baby, Malaysia.

Making childbirth a positive experience

15 February 2018 | Launch of new WHO guideline on intrapartum care - Worldwide, about 140 million women give birth every year. Whilst much is known about the clinical management of labour and childbirth less attention is paid to what, beyond clinical interventions, needs to be done to make women feel safe, comfortable and positive about the experience. A new WHO guideline, launched today, contains 56 evidence-based recommendations detailing both the clinical and non-clinical care that is needed throughout labour and immediately afterwards for women and for newborns. One of the key recommendations in this guideline recognizes that every birth is unique, while some labours progress quickly, others don’t and unnecessary medical interventions should be avoided if the woman and her baby are in good condition.

WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
A nurse measures the abdomen of a six months pregnant woman during a prenatal consultation, Mali

Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. While motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, for too many women it is associated with suffering, ill-health and even death. The major direct causes of maternal morbidity and mortality include haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour.

A mother and her infant.

New programme reporting standards for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programmes

14 September 2017 – Reporting on health programmes often covers what was done and not how it was done and in what context. This information is key to understanding impact and can facilitate successful replication and scale-up. To address this, WHO is launching new standards for reporting on sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programmes at this year’s Global Evidence Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

WHO/WPRO/Y Shimizu

fact buffet

Every day

830830 women, approximately die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Maternal mortality

Almost all

99 %99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

Maternal mortality

Access to skilled care

78%In 2016 an estimated 78% of all live births benefited from skilled care during delivery.

Skilled attendants at birth