Serena Williams nearly died after her daughter was born via emergency C-section last year; a pulmonary embolism "sparked a slew of health complications that I am lucky to have survived," the tennis star writes for CNN. Living through the experience made Williams realize even though it was terrifying, she's one of the "fortunate" ones. She had access to "incredible" doctors and "state-of-the-art" hospital equipment—many others don't. In the US, black women are more than three times likelier to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. Elsewhere in the world, women without easy access to medical care have it even worse—and globally, 2.6 million newborns die within their first month of life each year, more than 80% of them from preventable causes.
"Simple solutions" could help these mothers and babies—things like "access to midwives and functional health facilities, ... clean water, basic drugs, and good nutrition." If those things were available to all mothers, more of them and their babies would thrive. Organizations including UNICEF are trying to make that world a reality, and we can help by donating to those organizations and demanding action from governments, corporations, and health care providers. "Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth," Williams writes. Her full column is here. (One woman's story illustrates how risky childbirth can be for black women in the US.)