Christy Turlington Burns on building the nonprofit organization Every Mother Counts: 'What in the world moves you?'

She began to experience postpartum complications shortly after giving birth.

May 8, 2018, 8:54 PM

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.

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.

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.

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.

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