Australia has been ranked the second-best country in the world to be a mum by international organisation Save the Children in their State of the World's Mothers 2011 report.
The "Mothers' Index" is based on a number of indicators of women and children's health and wellbeing. It links access to education, economic opportunities and good healthcare services to the likelihood a mother and child will have a happy and healthy life.
Save the Children said the top 10 countries to be a mum are Norway, Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
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Afghanistan is the worst country in the world to be a mum, according to the report, after Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.
The US came in at 28 on the list of 160 nations, due mainly to the mortality rate among mothers, which is one in 4800 one of the highest in the developed world. In Italy, for example, the maternal mortality rate is less than one in 25,000, and in Ireland it is one in 47,600. The US's maternity leave policies also put it well behind other Western nations.
"While the situation in the US needs to improve, mothers in the developing world are facing far greater risks to their own health and that of their children," Save the Children's newborn and child survival campaign chief, Mary Beth Powers, said in a media release.
"The shortage of skilled birth attendants and challenges in accessing birth control means that women in countries at the bottom of the list face the most pregnancies and the most risky birth situations, resulting in newborn and maternal deaths."
Save the Children has called on countries to invest in front-line health workers to reduce the high maternal death rate in some of the world's poorest nations.
In countries where only a small percentage of births are attended by skilled health professionals, women had a higher chance of dying during or soon after child birth. Fifteen percent of births in Afghanistan are attended, and the country has a one in eight mortality rate among women during or shortly after labour. In Ethiopia, only 6 percent of births are attended by a health professional.
The State of the World's Mothers 2011 report ranked 160 countries, including 43 developed and 117 developing nations.
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