My Wife Gave Birth to Our Son in the Passenger Seat of our Old Car, Which Taught Me a lot About Global Health

This is a wild story. It ends well.

Two weeks ago my wife went into labor with our second child. We did not quite make it to the hospital. Or, rather, we did make it to the hospital. Just not inside. Our son was delivered in the passenger seat of our car by an ER nurse on her way to lunch.

Over the last two weeks I have tried to reflect on this experience and put it in the context of my own reporting on global health, from the halls of the United Nations to the backroads of western Africa. I have a piece in the Washington Post today, and just put together this podcast episode about our scare and the experience of mothers around the world who give birth in dangerous situations.

This episode is in two parts. First, I speak with my wife about giving birth in our family car. It was intense to relive the experience, but cathartic to talk over what happened. She is amazing.

Then, I have an extended conversation with Dr. Luc de Bernis, senior maternal health advisor at the UN Population Fund. I wanted to put our scare into a larger global context, and discuss the role of what the World Health Organization calls “skilled birth attendants” in ensuring safe and healthy deliveries for mothers and infants. We discuss why maternal and newborn mortality is still so stubbornly high in many countries in the developing world, and what the UN and other international and local organizations are doing to improve maternal and newborn health.

The shock has worn off. Now, I’m hoping to use our experience to draw broader attention to the critical role of skilled birth attendants for maternal and newborn health in the developing world.

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