April 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm , by Amelia Harnish
What does supermodel Christy Turlington Burns have in common with women in Malawi, Haiti and Guatemala? Nine years ago, Burns had a hemorrhage after the birth of her daughter. She recovered, but she learned that the same complication she survived kills thousands of women each year, mainly because they don’t have access to basic care.
“That shocked me,” said Burns, speaking last week about global maternal mortality at the Women in the World Summit. “Pregnancy is not a disease, yet 15 percent of all pregnancies result in a life-threatening complication.” (That’s her in the center, speaking with other panel members. You can get the full recap here.)
You may be thinking, as I was as I sat in the audience, that this is only a problem in far-off villages, not here in the United States where we have hospitals and prenatal care. But it turns out the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years, and we now have a higher rate of death in childbirth than Bosnia and Kuwait.
On top of that, the number of women who have complications but don’t die—what experts call “near misses”—are on the rise. “In the U.S. right now, about 52,000 pregnant women a year, or one every 10 minutes, will have a serious problem,” says ob-gyn Priya Agrawal, executive director of Merck for Mothers, Merck’s initiative to end maternal death in childbirth. Merck for Mothers sponsored the panel. The most common complications are hemorrhage, preeclampsia and blood clots, all of which can have lifelong health consequences. For example, preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy, can raise your risk for heart disease later on. “Ninety percent of these cases are preventable, but there is a huge lack of awareness, even in the United States,” says Dr. Agrawal.
Organizations like Merck for Mothers and Every Mother Counts (founded by Burns in 2010) are working to improve and standardize care in the United States and beyond so that all pregnancies and births can be joyous occasions. Meanwhile, there are simple ways you can help.
Watch Christy Turlington Burns’ Documentary No Woman, No Cry
The film follows four stories from Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States to show you everything you need to know about the issue. You can download it on iTunes, buy the DVD or get in touch with Every Woman Counts to arrange a screening in your area. Get all the info here.
Share Your Birth Story on the Merck for Mothers Facebook page
Did you have a complication? Like the Merck for Mothers page on Facebook to share your story, get the facts and help the organization spread awareness.
Photo by Marc Byron Brown
November 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm , by Amelia Harnish
As the Northeast hunkers down for another difficult storm today, we wanted to share some pictures we snapped this past week during Hurricane Sandy. LHJ staffers were pretty lucky. We’re all safe, back at work and most of us have power (keyword: most). New York City is crawling back toward normal, but we’re not there yet. So many of our neighbors are without electricity and heat. We’re still cleaning up and assessing the damage. Worst of all, lots of people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.
If you’d like to help, check out these great organizations working to restore New York, New Jersey and other places along the East Coast that are still suffering and make a donation if you can. Share your own experiences or ways to help in the comments.
• American Red Cross The Red Cross has 5,400 workers and 250 shelters spread from Virginia to Rhode Island. Donate online or text REDCROSS to 90999.
• Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Tireless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat established a relief fund of their own to restore the hardest-hit areas in New Jersey.
• United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund United Way has set up its own fund to help disaster areas with teams of volunteers and lots of supplies all along the Eastern Seaboard.
• The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief You can donate directly to New York City’s recovery with an online donation or find in-person volunteer opportunities if you’re in the New York-area and want to help out.
Preparing for Hurricane Sandy
LHJ's health editor Julie Bain believes in being well prepared! Here she tests the batteries on her headlamp before the storm. She lost power at her place in Manhattan on Monday, October 29, and the lights came back on Friday night, November 1. The headlamp was great for walking up and down pitch-black stairwells, leaving her hands free. Read Julie's other lessons for storm preparedness here.
Categories: Do Good, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Do Good, Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Sandy, Mayor's Fund for New York City, New Jersey Relief Fund, Occupy Sandy, Red Cross, Sandy, United Way, volunteer | No Comments
April 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm , by Beth Roehrig
Last week I met with the hilarious and down-to-earth designers Tanya McQueen and Tracy Hutson, otherwise known as The Picker Sisters. (The first season of their show, all about upcycling people’s roadside castoffs into cool designs, aired on Lifetime; they’re currently between seasons.)
Since Tanya and Tracy specialize in turning trash into treasure, they were the perfect ambassadors for Glad’s Mess to Masterpiece Art Auction, benefiting Keep America Beautiful. In honor of Earth Day, Glad asked mosaic artist Jason Mecier to create a few works of art using celebs’ trash, with the resulting animal portraits being auctioned off on eBay. Sounds weird? Well, the results are surprisingly striking. I’m a fan of this slightly angry (but hopefully not rabid) raccoon. Read more
March 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm , by Amelia Harnish
By now you’ve probably seen the Kony 2012 video that blew up this month. It reached more than 100 million views within a week, making it the fastest-spreading viral video ever (faster even than Lady Gaga’s video for “Bad Romance”). When I watched the video, I could see why it touched so many people: Who could be against a call-to-action to stop Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group famous for abducting children and turning them into soldiers and sex slaves?
But there have also been a lot of questions about the accuracy of the video and goals of Invisible Children, the organization that produced it. And earlier this week, the film’s creator was brought to a mental hospital after running around the streets of San Diego naked. Reports are blaming a psychotic break caused by all the scrutiny.
In other words, it’s turned into quite a circus. So when Health Director Julie Bain heard that an old friend, Conrad Mandsager, head of ChildVoice International, was going to be in town for a meeting at the United Nations, we invited him to stop by. While he was here, he talked to us about what’s going on in Uganda now, what ChildVoice is doing to help the most vulnerable victims recover, and how you (yes, another call-to-action!) can help.
LHJ: Why do you think Kony 2012 is causing such a stir?
CM: Raising awareness is great, and Invisible Children has certainly succeeded at that. But to really understand this conflict, you’ve got to go back in Uganda’s history more than 50 years. It’s very complicated. So it’s my sense that even if we took out Kony, which seems to be what Invisible Children wants, the problems would still be there.
Part of it is also that people in Africa are incensed that a group of Westerners would come in and oversimplify this. I just read an article by a teacher in Uganda who said, “I’ve got former child soldiers in my class and they wonder, Why is America making a hero out of Kony?” And that’s what Invisible Children’s approach is: Let’s make him a celebrity so everyone in the world knows who he is. But if you’ve been traumatized by this guy, you don’t respond well to that. Read more
March 1, 2012 at 11:16 am , by Amanda Wolfe
Can’t make it to a local International Women’s Day event? Celebrate with us from home! Next Wednesday (March 7—mark your calendar!) we’re hosting a special online screening of the extraordinary documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell with our friends at CARE and ITVS.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the astonishing and inspiring story of a group of Liberian women who united to take on Liberia’s violent dictator and warlords during their country’s brutal civil war. It’s truly an amazing story that you don’t want to miss.
After the film stay online and participate in a live panel discussion with experts and special guests, including the film’s producer Abigail Disney, PBS President Paula Kerger, and CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle. We’ll be talking about the role that women have in changing our world, which—as you’ll see when you watch—is huge.
So go bookmark care.org/IWD now (you can also learn lots more) and don’t forget to join us on Wednesday!
March 1, 2012 at 6:00 am , by Ladies' Lounge
In our March issue, the beautiful Kate Winslet shared her new passion project—a crusade to spread autism awareness. After narrating a documentary on autistic children who themselves would never be able to speak, she knew she couldn’t just pack up and go home; she was desperate do something to help them. So Kate (and quite a few of her celebrity friends), put together a wonderful new book called The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism, sales of which will benefit Kate’s Golden Hat Foundation, a non-profit that advocates for the inclusion and education of autistic children everywhere.
We’re over the moon about this book, and can’t wait for you to pick it up—so we’re giving away 20 signed copies! To enter, just post a comment below.
January 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm , by Sue Erneta
With less than 48 hours until I leave for vacation, I’ve got beach on the brain. And traveling with me will be a few of my favorite items — my scarves from Lemlem.
For the uninitiated, I’ll give you the brief story. Lemlem was created by the gorgeous supermodel Liya Kebede in 2007. The line consists of handwoven dresses, tops, skirts, scarves and shoes for women and girls. I’m not gonna lie, it ain’t cheap. But when something is special and you can wear it over and over, then maybe $150 for a scarf isn’t so bad.
Her scarves are my favorite because they always have this beautiful color mix — some amazing pop of super bright against pure white — and they are so easy to wear. I love them around my neck on a plane to keep the chill away and then as a sarong on the beach. I even wrap them around my kids as little beach dresses.
The dresses and tunics are adorable too – and even come in kids sizes – though they do run upwards of $200+. They’re carried at one of my favorite place to shop – jcrew.com — so I’m always on the lookout to see some pop up on sale. Oh look: there are a couple right now!
Another reason to love Lemlem is that by purchasing the product, not only are you keeping alive the ancient art of hand weaving but you are giving a job to someone who may not have had one before. Check out these pictures of the weaving process. It makes it look totally worth $150 to me.
Photos from Lemlem.