Australia has been ranked as the 10th best country to be a mother in a new report by charity Save The Children.
Researchers assessed the health, educational, economic and political conditions for mothers and children in 176 countries as part of the Australian charity’s annual State of the World’s Mothers report.
Scandinavian countries topped the list this year, with Finland coming in first place, followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Australia is the only non-European country listed in the top 10.
Save the Children’s Annie Bodmar-Roy says there is not much separating the top 10 countries.
“You can think about it like an Olympic race,” she said.
“The person who comes in second, third and fourth are half-seconds behind the person who comes in first so it’s a very small difference.
“But really I think what we need to look at for Australia is access to education and health for all different groups across the country.
“It would make a difference in getting us back up there.”
The United Kingdom is 23rd and the United States is 30th. The Democratic Republic of Congo came in last, behind Somalia and Sierra Leone.
Aussie mums by the numbers
Median age at childbirth: 30.6 years (in 2001, 30 years)
Number of registered births: 301,617
Babies per women: 1.9
Triplets or higher multiples: 62
Pregnant women entitled to paid maternity leave: 151,200
Pregnant women who took paid maternity leave: 131,544
Working mothers reliant on grandparents for child care: 27 per cent
Save The Children says countries in sub-Saharan Africa need better health care and improved educational standards so women can make healthier lifestyle choices.
“One way to invest in women and girls is to invest in the survival and well-being of their children and the recent story of child survival is terrific nearly any way you look at it,” Melinda Gates wrote in the report’s foreword.
“Each year, 3 million newborns die.”
The report says more than 1 million of those deaths happen on the first day of life, mostly due to preventable causes such as infection.
One of its key recommendations is to target the underlying causes of newborn deaths, especially gender inequality.
“When mothers are strong and stable – physically, financially and socially – their children are more likely to survive and thrive,” the report said.
“Educated girls tend to marry later and begin childbearing later in life, when their bodies are more fully developed.
“They are also more likely to make healthy choices for themselves and their babies.”
The report recommends a raft of low-cost treatments like basic antiseptic to prevent deadly infections and antenatal steroids to help premature babies breathe.