downton abbey sibyl

Well, the odds of dying in childbirth are reassuringly low if you are not pregnant, so that may be something to keep in mind if you are not currently pregnant. However, if you are a Downton Abbey fan – SPOILERS AHEAD – you probably also thought that the odds of dying in chilbirth around the turn of the century were pretty low, but, oh, no, that did not stop Sibyl from dying, did it? And then the Dowager Countess wept and said that she had died in childbirth like many before her. Oh, God, it was sad.

How did Downton Abbey rip my heart out and simultaneously fill my head with so many questions about whether or not I was still likely to die in childbirth? Did it do the same for you? Are we the same person?

If so, it may cheer you up to know that, maternal mortality is now very rare in developed countries – there are approximately 17 deaths per every 100,000 pregnancies in the US. So your likelihood of death from childbirth is probably around .017%. That is very low.


However, according to The World Health Organization 800 deaths still occur due to complication resulting from childbirth per day, and 99% of those are in third world countries. That ends up being around 287,000 deaths per year. But the rate has still dropped 50% in the past ten years, in part because of many programs working to decrease the maternal mortality rate.

For instance, There’s currently a program in Tanzania aiming to end maternal mortality in that region, which says:

More than 100 local non-physician clinicians including assistant medical officers and nurse midwives in Tanzania’s most isolated areas have been trained to perform life-saving procedures including caesarean sections since the program began. The number of maternal deaths from bleeding and other complications in Tanzania have been reduced; in one district alone, maternal deaths declined by 32% in less than 2 years due to the project.
To date, more than one thousand babies have been delivered by c-section in villages where women previously had to travel several hours to receive care – often when it was too late. Women in Tanzania deliver an average of 5.5 children in their lifetime, meaning every mother’s life saved not only impacts her and her newborn but also the well-being of her other children.

That would be a good thing to consider donating to, maybe! Also, if you’re interested, because, OH MY GOD LADY CORA AT SIBYL’S BEDSIDE, here are some good foundations you can support to help prevent maternal mortality around the world:

Global Giving

Every Mother Counts

Amnesty International

Picture via Downton Abbey