Where are the best countries in the world for a mom to be a mom?  Turns out, it's not to U.S.  Not even by a long shot.

The United States actually scored rather poorly on the latest Save the Children "Mothers Index,"  managing only 28th place, and bettered by many smaller and poorer countries.  But the US showing put it behind countries such as the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and eastern and central European states such as Croatia and Slovenia.  Even debt-plagued Greece beat the U.S. with a motherhood ranking of 24.

So where is the best place to be a mother?  Norway topped the list followed by a string of other developed nations.  Not surprisingly, Afghanistan came in at the bottom of the table, below several African states.

Why did the U.S. score so poorly?  One of the primary reasons was the maternal mortality rate, which at one in 4,800 is one of the highest in the developed world.  Did you know that?  Neither did I.  Apparently, a woman in the Unites States is more than 5 times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland.  

The U.S. also scored poorly on under-five mortality (our rate of 8 per 1,000 births putting it on a par with Slovakia and Montenegro.) Only 61% of American children are enrolled in preschool, which on this indicator made it the seventh-lowest country in the developed world.  And finally, according to the campaign's report, "The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy -- both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid -- of any wealthy nation."


Save the Children compiled the index based on a number of factors affecting the health and well-being of women and children, including access to health care, education and economic opportunities.  Norway came out on top because women there are paid well, access to contraception is easy and the country has one of the generous most maternity leave policies in the world.  Norway was followed by Australia, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

At the bottom was Afghanistan, followed by Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

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