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  WHO > Programmes and projects > World health report > The world health report 2005 - make every mother and child count
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Chapter 3: Previous page | 1,2,3,4,5,6

Great expectations: making pregnancy safer

  Table of Contents

Pregnancy is not just a matter of waiting to give birth. Often a defining phase in a woman’s life, pregnancy can be a joyful and fulfilling period, for her both as an individual and as a member of society. It can also be one of misery and suffering, when the pregnancy is unwanted or mistimed, or when complications or adverse circumstances compromise the pregnancy, cause ill-health or even death. Pregnancy may be natural, but that does not mean it is problem-free.

Rarely is a pregnancy greeted with indifference. When a pregnancy occurs, women, their partners and families most often experience a mixture of joy, concern and hope that the outcome will be the best of all: a healthy mother and a healthy baby. All societies strive to ensure that pregnancy is indeed a happy event. They do so by providing appropriate antenatal care during pregnancy to promote health and cope with problems, by taking measures to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and by making sure that pregnancies take place in socially and environmentally favourable conditions. Women around the world face many inequities during pregnancy. At this crucial time women rely on care and help from health services, as well as on support systems in the home and community. Exclusion, marginalization and discrimination can severely affect the health of mothers and that of their babies.

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