Maternal and Reproductive Health

Save the Children aims to improve the sexual reproductive health outcomes of adolescents and mothers, particularly in underserved populations, through increasing access to, improving the quality of, and generating demand for family planning and maternal health services.

Technical & Policy Library

Save the Children works to improve maternal, newborn, infant and child health and survival in the most vulnerable communities around the world. Access to a wide range of modern contraceptive methods to ensure healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy will help women achieve the healthiest outcomes for women, newborns, infants and children. When mothers become pregnant again too soon after giving birth, it puts their health and their children's well-being at risk.

It's estimated that family planning already helps save the lives of at least 272,000 women and girls worldwide every year. Globally, an estimated 225 million women and girls in the developing world have an unmet need for family planning services, resulting in approximately 74 million unintended pregnancies every year. Of these unintended pregnancies, 10 million pregnancies occur among adolescent girls, aged 15-19, who are at higher risk of adverse outcomes for themselves and their babies due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth.

Addressing the unmet need of women and adolescent girls by increasing their access to modern methods of contraception and quality maternal care and creating a supportive health care system, enabling policies, and community environments for safer pregnancies would prevent an additional 70,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 newborn deaths each year. Investments made in improving the sexual and reproductive health of women throughout the life cycle, especially among the most vulnerable communities, not only improve the health of women, but also contribute to long-term benefits for their families and communities as well.

Watch Our Video

Save the Children's Senior Director of Family Planning & Reproductive Health, Winifride Mwebesa, speaks on the importance of family planning in reducing maternal and child deaths worldwide.

Save the Children Works to:

  • Create a supportive environment for the use of modern contraception for all girls and women who need them.
  • Increase access to improve the quality of and generate demand for family planning and maternal health services, particularly in underserved populations.
  • Strengthen local delivery of family planning information and services, especially to adolescents. Examples include training community health workers to provide a wide range of methods, including injectable contraception, and expanding provider capacity to deliver long-acting reversible contraception for youth.
  • Improve policies, enhance systems and services, and build local capacity for health care providers to provide respectful maternity care to all girls and women.
  • Understand and overcome practical and cultural barriers to better reproductive health practices by communities and health care providers.
  • Improve health systems' capacity to deliver quality family planning and maternal health programs.

Maternal and Reproductive Health Program Highlights

  • Save the Children’s My First Baby (MFB) project addresses the reproductive health needs of adolescent first-time mothers and mothers-to-be. In Nepal, where early child marriage is a common practice, most first time mothers are adolescent girls who are forced to leave their schooling and families and have limited access to information on reproductive healthcare; healthy child care practices; and health facilities for antenatal, delivery, and postpartum care. To reach this often-neglected population, Save the Children is piloting MFB in Kapvilbastu and Pyuthan districts in Nepal to improve married Nepali adolescent girls’ reproductive health knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Married Adolescent Girls groups receive counseling through peer-facilitated sessions that cover topics related to nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, fertility, pregnancy, birth preparedness, contraception, breastfeeding, and infant care.
  • The Household-to-Hospital Continuum of Care (HHCC) project, funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, seeks to encourage preventive household and community practices and improve the quality, accessibility, and utilization of facility-based maternal and newborn health services in 8 provinces in Vietnam. The HHCC approach is a comprehensive model to improve maternal and newborn health through linking households, communities, community health centers, and district and provincial hospitals together. In its third phase of implementation, the project is working to scale-up the model’s best practices and effective interventions to pre-service training countrywide
  • The USAID-funded Fertility Awareness for Community Transformation (FACT) Project is a research, intervention, and technical assistance project led by Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health in partnership with Save the Children and the International Center for Research on Women. The FACT project aims to reduce the high, unmet need of youth, postpartum women, and couples for family planning (FP) in Uganda and Nepal through developing and testing innovative interventions to investigate two primary hypotheses: (1) Increased fertility awareness improves FP use; and (2) Expanded access to fertility awareness-based methods (FAM) increases uptake of FP and reduces unintended pregnancies.
  • The USAID Services de Santé à Grand Impact project works in partnership with the Government of Mali, NGOs—both international and local—and communities in several target regions in Mali to implement large-scale activities to reduce the preventable causes of maternal, newborn, and child mortality. Funded by USAID/MALI, this five-year (2014-2019) project is implemented by a consortium of organizations, including Jhpiego, Marie Stopes International, Management Systems International, Groupe Pivot Santé /Population (GP/SP), and the Fédération Nationale des Associations de Santé Communautaire (FENASCOM) under the leadership of Save the Children. The project aims to increase the long-term use of quality, high-impact health services and behaviors from households at the community level to health facilities. The intervention areas of the project include: maternal, newborn, and child health; malaria; reproductive health and family planning; HIV/AIDS; nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and health systems strengthening.
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