Fact: Every minute a woman dies in childbirth somewhere in the world — 536,000 deaths per year — and almost all of them are preventable. While most other health indicators have improved in low-income countries over the last decades, maternal mortality and morbidity remain unconquered.

  • Up to 15 percent of pregnant women experience potentially fatal complications — 20 million women each year.
  • Approximately 5 percent of pregnant women — 7 million women — experience complications that require surgery, most often a caesarean section, and many are without access to emergency obstetric care. One result is 2 million women living with a disability such as obstetric fistula.
  • 35 percent of pregnant women in low-income countries do not have access to or contact with health personnel prior to delivery.
  • More than 60 percent of maternal deaths take place during delivery or in the immediate post-partum period.

The most critical interventions for safe motherhood are universal access to contraception, a health worker with midwifery skill.

Women's Health Fact Sheet
Take Action to make motherhood safer


  Friends of UNFPA - For the health and dignity of women and girls everywhere