Even in the best circumstances, motherhood can be quite the challenge. But for women who live in poverty, lack education or don't have proper healthcare, pregnancy and childbirth can mean life or death—and carrying for their children is an everyday struggle.
Let's celebrate motherhood in all its complexities by helping mamas who need it the most. Here are 9 charities helping moms and their babies around the world.
More than 800 women die every day bringing life into the world — that’s one woman every 2 minutes. Knowing that access to proper health care can prevent 90 percent of these deaths, Christy Turlington Burns founded Every Mother Counts with one mission in mind: to “make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.” The organization has a variety of programs, ranging from comprehensive doula care and nutrition classes in America to solar-powered clinics in Northern Tanzania.
Thousands of refugees are seeking help every day. Mothers across the world, from Greece to Syria to Ukraine, cross borders in search of a better life for their babies—many of them on foot carrying their little ones hundreds of miles. Hoping to lighten their loads, Cristal Logothetis founded Carry the Future to deliver baby carriers to Syrian parents and help them keep their babies safe through their journey to asylum. They are entirely volunteer-run and they get boots on the ground to ensure they're delivering what families need most. In 2021 they distributed 81,000 clean diapers. The association's mission also focuses on providing baby beds and other sleep essentials like swaddles and mosquito nets for refugee babies in dire need of safety and comfort. If you want to join a distribution trip, click here.
Jessica Seinfeld founded Good+ (previously Baby Buggy) in 2001 for families in need. Working in concert with more than 100 community-based programs, the organization provides equipment, clothing and services to parents who need help take care of their children. But rather than just giving things away, Good+ uses their donations as an incentive for change. For example, a mother receives a stroller after opening an education-savings account for her child; and a father gets a crib after completing a 16-week parenting program. Since its launch, Good+ has given more than 20 million items — including cribs, high chairs and diapers — and has extended its mission to job training, parenting education and financial literacy classes.
How you can help: organize a drive, give gear, donate money, or volunteer.
March of Dimes wants to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. Their campaigns work to end preventable maternal health risks and death, preventable preterm infant death, and an end to the health equity gap amongst other things. In an attempt to give all babies a healthy start in life, the association helps moms have full-term pregnancies. It also provides support to families whose babies need specialized medical care. In 2004, March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Research Initiative, which funds research to understand, and ultimately prevent, preterm labor.
How you can help: donate, volunteer, or attend one of their local events.
Like other family-centric organizations, Global Midwife Education Foundation hopes to reduce maternal and infant mortality in rural areas of the developing world. Its mission, however, seeks to do so by focusing on educating birth attendants through sustained, community-based programs. The organization trains and equips midwives to provide childbirth assistance and newborn care to remote, impoverished villages. In addition, GMEF addresses other basic needs, like access to clean water and sanitation, to make sure that mothers and babies remain healthy after childbirth.
How you can help: donate.
WIN houses about 4,800 people each night, including 2,700 children. Women in Need hopes to break the cycle of homelessness for families in the city. It provides them with clean, safe housing and services like childcare, computer literacy classes, and vocational workshops. WIN’s ultimate goal is to progressively offer moms and their children a way out of homelessness, and into permanent homes.
Aligning itself with local, community-based organizations, Circle of Health International (COHI) works with women and their communities in times of crisis to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal and newborn care. The association sends volunteer field teams to provide disaster relief; it provides professional training in health, community engagement and non-profit management; and it delivers supplies to help women and children in crisis. In 17 years, COHI has served more than 3 million women, delivered $800,000 worth of supplies, and has trained more than 7,000 healthcare professional.
8. World Relief
For over 75 years and across 100 countries, this organization has been helping support basic needs for families and individuals. Over 87 million people have been forced to leave their homes and that number grows by 37,000 every day. World Relief provides humanitarian assistance like clean water and hygiene kits as well as cultural classes, among a long list of other things, to help refugees get settled in their new homes. From Afghanistan to Ukraine to small villages in Africa, they are helping women, children, and families through holistic transformation.
IRC works in over 40 crisis-affected countries around the world. Among all of the humanitarian work they do, one of their main focuses is addressing the inequalities women and girls face all over. In 2020 alone they provided 410,000 children under 5 with nutrition treatment, 1.2 million people with gender-bases violence awareness, and 31 million people access healthcare services.
A version of this post was published December 15, 2016. It has been updated.