Don’t Have a Baby Here: The Best and Worst Places to Get Pregnant

Cheryl Lock

The Best Places To Have A BabyThe experts have spoken—and unfortunately the United States doesn’t appear to be such a good place to have kids.

Save the Children conducts yearly worldwide studies to determine the best and worst countries in which to be a mom.

Disappointingly, the U.S. ranked 31 out of 43 developed countries, behind Poland and Slovakia. (We’ve pulled out the best and the worst developed countries at the bottom of this article.)

Since everyone can’t just up and move to top-ranked Norway, we’ve highlighted some of the factors that went into the less-than-stellar ranking. In the process, we’ve come up with some things you can do to make the most of your life in grand ol’ 31.

1. Maternal Mortality Rate

In spite of our first world status, surprisingly one in 2,100 moms dies in childbirth in the U.S., the highest of any industrialized nation. Amnesty International points to lack of accessibility to good health care as a huge factor in this high number. Additionally, C-sections, which can lead to complications like blood clots, infection and excessive bleeding, rose 25% over 7 years. Despite all this, the maternal mortality rate number should be taken with a grain of salt, says Mary Beth Powers, campaign chief for newborn and child survival with Save the Children. The more children a woman has, the higher the probability that something will go wrong. One of the reasons the U.S. has such a high rate “is that, on average, moms here are having more children.”

The takeaway: If you have insurance and access to good health care, don’t let this get to you too much. If you don’t, get health insurance under control. To make sure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible, take prenatal vitamins and talk to your doctor about illnesses or diseases that run in your family, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

2. Our Under-Five Rate

The rate of children under five years old who pass away is eight per 1,000 births in the United States; 40 industrialized countries performed better than we did on this. The majority of these are newborns, especially preemies. Powers says that one reason the U.S. has such a high rate is that more people use fertility drugs that cause multiple births. As Science Daily points out, fertility drugs are responsible for one of every five multiple births in the U.S.

The takeaway: Before using fertility drugs, know the risks—and steer clear of overly aggressive clinics that promise success. If you do become pregnant with twins or triplets, know that good prenatal care can lower the risks that go along with a multiple pregnancy.

3. Preschool Enrollment

Only 58% of children in the United States are enrolled in preschool—the fifth lowest rate in the developed world. This is a factor in the rankings because pre-primary programs teach socialization skills and creative play skills, which help get kids ready for more advanced schooling. But in the U.S., many parents just can’t afford to put their kids in school for those additional early years.

We’re Curious …

How does this study make you feel about pregnancy in the U.S.?

The takeaway: If you can’t afford preschool, make sure that your toddler is socialized and stimulated by joining play groups with other moms and earmarking a few hours a day to do educational, creative play with your child. You could also search for a Head Start program in your area, which is a federal program for preschool children from low-income families.

4. Maternity Leave

The U.S. has the least generous maternity leave policy—both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid—of any wealthy nation. Average maternity leave covers six weeks for vaginal births and eight weeks for a C-section (whether you’ll be paid for that time is up to the company). There’s a reason it’s “Uncle Sam” and not “Aunt Samantha.”

The takeaway: This is a politically-charged issue. Know your rights for maternity leave (here). If you want to advocate for a policy change, check out the political group MomsRising.

More Ways to Save on a Baby
These are the new baby expenses that no one told you about.
We’ve got you covered with the best ways to budget for a baby, here.
Over a lifetime, how much will you spend on a baby? Read this.

  • Southern Ca Mum

    Regarding the children who do not attend preschool, what if those children are staying home with a parent or other involved adult who is nurturing them, taking them to museums and outings, reading to them, “doing life” with them?  Can preparation for school happen only in a structure, classroom environment?  I think not!

    • Michelle

      I agree, I didn’t go to preschool and most of my friends didn’t either, and I would say I’m successful.

    • Stephanie

      I’d say it depends on the child.  My mom quit her job to stay at home with me, and she did great things for my developing intellect (lots of counting, ABC’s, reading, learning colors, etc.) but I was slow to develop social skills.  I was extreeeemely attached to her, to an unhealthy degree, I was scared of most other people.  I needed preschool in order to learn to be away from her.  It took me a few weeks of hiding under the couch in the playroom of my preschool sobbing hysterically for me to finally come out of my shell and play with the other kids.  Other kids are just naturally outgoing and don’t the the socialization “training wheels” preschool can provide, but I benefitted tremendously from it!

  • Kellyn Westra

    I went to preschool and it was good for me as I was extroverted and my mom was an interovert so she never took me anywhere socially so it wouldnt’ have happened much naturally….

  • Anonymous

    Ladies, keep in mind, this article is pointing out that the US fails in comparison to developed world powers at the forefront of technology, where the US should be.  It is not failing in comparison to developing countries.

  • CleoBarker

    I went to a Gifted and Talented Montessori School by the time I was 3 and 1/2. It gave me other outlets to explore I normally would not have, seeing as I was already reading and writing at a 3rd grade level at the time. And my mom was attending college anyhow. It also helped me meet others my age and take the edge off of the shyness. I was pretty independent of my parents, but this is one of the main reasons most decide to put their kids in preschool; 1- to give the child time to adjust before school begins, and 2- because it allows a stay at home parent to work again. When I have kids in a few years I’m sending them to a Montessori pre-school also, because I liked it and I felt like I could really learn what I wanted to learn about as much as I wanted to learn, and play as I saw fit. Its liberating for a youngster to have that in my humble opinion.