Christy Turlington Burns turns personal scare into maternal mission

Two women die each day from childbirth or pregnancy
Two women die each day from childbirth or pregnancy


    Two women die each day from childbirth or pregnancy


Two women die each day from childbirth or pregnancy 04:15
Watch Brooke Baldwin on "CNN Newsroom" at 2 p.m. ET/PT

(CNN)In the United States, a nation that spends more money on health care than any other in the world, two women die every day due to complications associated with pregnancy or childbirth.

It's a shocking statistic, and one that Christy Turlington Burns is dedicated to reducing.
"This is unacceptable, right?" she asked Brooke Baldwin, bemoaning the plight of the American mom. "Most of these deaths are preventable. We know how to save these lives and we should be doing a better job."
Christy Turlington Burns, left, discusses her film series with CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
On Friday, the 46-year-old mother of two joined Baldwin on "CNN Newsroom," sharing details of how her personal experience led to her public mission.
    "I had a complication after delivering my first child 12 years ago here in New York City," she said. "I had a postpartum hemorrhage ... great birth experience but in the aftermath there are unexpected things that happen that you can't predict when and to whom it will happen."
    In 2010, the supermodel founded Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit organization tasked with creating safe pregnancy and childbirth experiences for every mother. Now partnering with CNN, Turlington has produced "Giving Birth In America," a digital film series that follows four American women as they embark upon their own individual childbirth journeys.
    Before appearing on CNN, the woman who first represented the iconic Calvin Klein fragrance Eternity in 1989 sat down in CNN's New York headquarters to engage with her fans as part of a Facebook chat.
    Here are some of the highlights from the social media conversation:
    Elyse Henry asks: What are the reasons behind the climb in maternal mortality rates?
    Christy Turlington Burns: There are several factors, but we can explore four first, beginning with chronic illness. More than half of pregnant women in the U.S. are obese, which leads to complications like hypertension, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. A second factor is race. On average, African-American women are 4x as likely to die from pregnancy related complications. Latina women are at 2x greater risk. Lack of insurance and high health care costs also contribute to rising rates. There are 17 million uninsured women ages 19-64 in the U.S. Hispanic women are more than 2x as likely as Caucasian women to be uninsured. Over-medicalization is an issue as well in the U.S. The national C-section rate is nearly 33%. WHO studies indicate no evidence of health benefits for mothers and babies in populations with rates higher than 10%.
    Wendy Brundige: What surprised you most about the places you've highlighted in your series?
    CTB: I was surprised by certain aspects by all three states that we featured in the film series. In New York, to see women receive care and support from a doula -- made every difference to Lisette. In Naiome, who moves from South Carolina to FL late in her pregnancy, discovers she's not eligible for Medicaid at that time. In Montana, Emerald lives far from care and after returning home postpartum, she has to return to the hospital to treat an infection -- as the level of care she needed wasn't available closer to home.
    Rose Panieri: When health care becomes an industry rather than a service, only those with money get the best care.
    CTB: America's health care system is the most complicated and expensive in the world. Mothers who can afford health insurance almost always have it provided by their employer or through a policy they buy for themselves. For 40% of pregnant women in America, coverage is provided by Medicaid. For those without medical insurance (which includes 13% of all pregnant women), the costs for health care are so high that many can't afford it. American women who lack health insurance are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than women who have insurance.
    Cathy Savage Llama: There are fewer ob/gyn doctors with each having many more patients. Women fall through the cracks.
    CTB: In some states, like Montana, there is a health care worker shortage and there are more people living in poverty there than the U.S. average. A lack of knowledge, community funding and resources, high cost of health care, and limited transportation are also some of the major barriers women face when accessing maternal health care.
    You can read Christy Turlington Burns' entire Facebook chat here.

    "I experienced placental complications, hemorrhaged, and within minutes, my delivery room filled with a medical team...

    Posted by CNN on Friday, December 11, 2015