In town this week for a Monday airing of her 2010 film "No Woman, No Cry" at the Gene Siskel Film Center, supermodel Christy Turlington Burns talked about her campaign against pregnancy- and birth-related deaths of women around the world.
Eight years ago, when Burns was delivering her first child, she didn't advance to the fourth stage of pregnancy. Everything went fine until an hour after the birth, when she experienced postpartum hemorrhaging.
"Why did that happen to me?" she said. "I found out it is quite random. For the most part, 15 percent of pregnancies will result in complications. ... When women live far away from a facility, they can bleed to death within two hours."
Her mother is from El Salvador, and when traveling to that country Burns realized she
Christy Turlington Burns
(John H. White~Sun-Times)
wouldn't have had access to the medical team that pulled her through.
She thought to herself: "Had I had my first child in this community, I would have died." (She now has two children, a daughter, 8, and a son, 6, whom she is taking to Tanzania this year for the first time.)
After learning that hundreds of thousands of women die from pregnancy- and birth-related deaths every year around the world and that half of the deaths in the United States are preventable, Burns founded Every Mother Counts.
"Ninety percent of these deaths are preventable," she said. And for every woman who dies, 20 more incur lifelong disabilities.
Her film, "No Woman, No Cry" (which takes its name from the Bob Marley lyric), was shot in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States. The film has been shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network
"There is this assumption that there will always be women dying in childbirth," said Erin Thornton, executive director of Every Mother Counts. "It doesn't have to be that way."
Follow BackTalk on Twitter@stbacktalk