Shortly after giving birth to a perfectly healthy daughter, Christy Turlington Burns began to experience postpartum complications. Turlington Burns remembered how those first moments bonding with her daughter were cut short because of growing concern that she had not yet gone into the fourth stage of labor as expected.
“In my case, the placenta had grown into the uterine wall, and because of that, it needed to be extracted. And because of that, I hemorrhaged,” she said.
On an episode of ABC Radio’s "No Limits," Turlington Burns spoke candidly with Rebecca Jarvis, the ABC News chief business, technology, and economics correspondent, about how that experience became a decisive moment in her life that lead her to creating the non-profit organization Every Mother Counts.
Thanks #NYSE for the opportunity to share @everymomcounts and our mission to make pregnancy safer for more moms AND introduce the Orange Rose as a symbol for safer motherhood this Mother's Day. Looking for gifts that give to honour your mother or a mother in your life? Check out WWW.everymothercounts.org #everymomcounts
Recalling her time in the birthing center, Turlington Burns considered what could have happened if she didn’t have the right team and tools available saying, “imagine if you don’t have a team or a person who can identify what’s even happening. And then if you’re in a place that is not hygienic, or if you have a team treating you that hasn’t been trained in postpartum complications.”
“That sets you up for the absolute worst outcome,” she added.
Since her scare, Turlington Burns has dedicated her days to changing that outcome one mother at a time. In 2010, she released the documentary ‘No Woman No Cry’ to bring awareness to issues surrounding maternal health around the world. Two years later, Every Mother Counts was established as a 501 (c)(3) to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for mothers across the globe working in the following regions: Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala, India, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States.
Today is International Day of the Midwife. Midwives are the system’s experts in supporting uncomplicated, healthy childbirth. I chose a midwife to deliver both of my kids and am so grateful to have received such loving and high quality maternity and well woman care since. This photo was taken last summer at the Asociacion Corazon del Agua in Guatemala City. This is Gabriela Melendez and the second class of students to graduate from the first university accredited midwifery school in Guatemala. I can’t wait to return with @everymomcounts next month to see them again. Thinking of these midwives and all the midwives today as I head down to DC for the @marchformoms #idm18 #ConMadre
Since 2012, Every Mother Counts has provided more than $4 million in grants and has impacted over 600,000 lives around the world.
Turlington Burns told Jarvis that globally there are over 300,000 deaths per year associated with childbirth. The United States is one of 13 countries with a rising maternal mortality rate, with African American women four times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than Caucasian women.
"There are a lot of women like myself who endured a childbirth-related complication but some of those women don’t recover from those complications,” Turlington Burns said.
“You might have a lifelong disability that will not only cause trauma, but pain and discomfort,” she added.
Last day in Arusha at the Makuyuni Clinic where we provided some training to the staff there to assist @everymomcounts grantee partners @wecaresolar along with Tanzanian friends from #Pathfinder. This solar suitcase is going to make these and many other women's lives much easier and safer. They were eager to try out their new fetal doppler on patients so we took a little break so they could do a prenatal checkup before we installed the suitcase onto the clinic wall. Truly a team effort. Thanks @michellejassem & @mollfar for the instructional support!
Turlington Burns gained notoriety early on as one of the most famous models in the world and, now, she continues to make headlines as an international advocate for maternal health.
"It was a goal of mine to not be put in any kind of corner or box,” she said.
And when it comes to building an organization like Every Mother Counts, her advice for individuals is to deeply consider, “what in the world moves you?"
Hear more of Christy Turlington Burns' interview on this week's episode of "No Limits With Rebecca Jarvis," available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app, and stream their Mother's Day PSA “We Can Change This” here.