By Lauren Jimeson
Miriam was married at 13 and pregnant at 15. (Photo: ABC News)
My biggest fear when I go into labor is whether or not I will make it to the hospital in time to receive my epidural. I have absolutely no tolerance for pain and am scared to death of having a natural birth.
For many women giving birth in the United States, our fears about giving birth may seem rather minimal to a woman giving birth in a developing country. Last week I was hit made aware of a horrible situation while watching an episode of ABC’s 20/20. It opened my eyes to the harsh truth that is going on over in Afghanistan. No it isn’t the war, but it does involve people losing their lives.
More than half of marriages in Afghanistan involve child brides. Girls are being forced to marry before the age of 15. Many of them getting pregnant by their husbands shortly after. But unlike the joy that many of us experience when we find out we are expecting, these girls live in fear that their lives may be taken from them in just nine months.
Every 90 seconds a woman dies giving childbirth somewhere in the world. For a young girl in Afghanistan there is a one in 10 chance when having a baby that she will die. Many of these girls get no proper medical attention during their pregnancy. When in labor, there is no doctor involved in the delivery. The girls are lucky to even have anyone around. If these children are lucky, their labor is accompanied by female family members who assist in the delivery but have no proper medical training and many really don’t know what they are doing.
The saddest part about all of this is that many of these deaths are preventable. Over the last decade there are several organizations who have given young women the proper medical training as midwives to help and assist with these children during childbirth. All it takes is a simple backpack containing soap, gloves and a sterile razor, to help prevent the leading cause of death in a woman giving birth in a developing country, hemorrhage. These women have helped lower a woman in Afghanistan’s risk of death from one in 11 to one in 50.
As I watched these children in Afghanistan give birth to a child, I was faced with the harsh reality in a world so many of us are unfamiliar with. It suddenly made my little problem of whether or not I would get an epidural become obsolete.
To watch the full episode and learn more about how you can help these children visit ABC News.