Photography by: Sian Davey, Bieke Depoorter, Diana Markosian, Carlota Guerrero, Dana Popa

We've all experienced birth, though none of us remember it.

Only a mother can really know what it means to bring new life into this world.

These are the stories of five women from five very different places. They are hundreds of miles apart. They all speak different languages. But the journey they are about to embark on is universal to all mothers.


"I had prepared myself in a small way
in that I managed to save about
200 or 500 shillings."
Nelly, Kenya

Photography by Bieke Depoorter

Nelly's story.

"When I did not have children life
was great, I could do anything I wanted.”
Choti, Nepal

Photography by Diana Markosian

Choti's story.

“I always imagined I'd be a mum one day
but I never got that real broodiness so it
was always one day in the future.”
Ellen, United Kingdom

Photographed by Sian Davey

Ellen's story

“When I was little I thought being a
mother was easy; I realise now that
Mum made it look easy, but it’s not!”

Photography by Carlota Guerrero

Jennifer's story.

“When I was 3-4 months pregnant he [Roxana’s husband] had a stroke. And after three weeks he died. It was another point in our life when everything changed.” Roxana, Romania

Photography by Dana Popa

Roxana's story

"I had no idea how intense the
contractions would be." - Ellen
“She came out purple and not breathing. They took her off to the corner to resuscitate her. She came back pink and breathing and crying and wonderful.”- Ellen
“I felt so much pain but I knew since there were doctors, I would give birth well.” - Nelly
“It’s just you and me now.” - Roxana

Each of these stories has a happy ending, but they are a moving reminder of how different it might have been had they given birth without a skilled birth attendant.

"I can’t imagine going through it without any support at all. It's such a fundamental thing giving birth. It just seems so obvious that it should be something that’s available to everyone." - Ellen
Every 2 minutes a woman dies because of complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
In 2016, 2.6 million mothers lost their newborn babies.
30 million women each year give birth without a skilled birth attendant.

A child’s birthplace should not dictate whether they live or die, but this global birth lottery is a tragic reality for millions.

Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, account for 77% of all newborn deaths. 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. But there are also huge inequalities within countries.

Even when good quality health care is available in the urban centres, it’s often only for those who can afford to pay for it.

For poor people, especially those living in remote, rural areas, healthcare can be practically non-existent.


Together Save the Children and GSK are calling on all governments around the world to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

No woman should have to give birth without essential health services and no family should face financial hardship as a result.

The GSK Save the Children partnership

Save the Children and GSK have an innovative and strategic partnership. It combines our expertise, skills and energy with the ambitious goal of helping to save one million children’s lives.

We are calling for improved access to healthcare across the globe and long-term, sustainable progress towards reducing child mortality. We are also working on the ground, increasing the training, reach and scope of health workers in the poorest communities, and helping children affected by disasters and humanitarian crises.

What our partnership has achieved so far

Together, we have directly helped more than 2.83 million children in 45 countries. We have fully immunised 97,600 children and treated over 187,000 children for pneumonia, malaria or diarrhoea since 2013. We have helped over 300,000 children during and after humanitarian emergencies.

The research and development work conducted by the partnership led to GSK’s reformulation of the antiseptic chlorhexidine, commonly used in mouthwash, into an antiseptic gel, using insights and on-the-ground knowledge from Save the Children.

This gel is being used to prevent umbilical cord infection which can lead to life-threatening neonatal sepsis. So far 30,000 newborns in Bungoma County Kenya have had access to the gel.

GSK has committed to making the new formulation and quality specifications available to other manufacturers, in addition to making the medicine available on a ‘not-for-profit’ pricing basis.

Find out more about the GSK and Save the Children partnership.