Most full-term pregnancies last nine months, and after, the miraculous birthing process occurs. Motherhood is supposed to be an exciting and celebrated occasion; however, at least 800 women die daily while pregnant or giving birth in the world, including in the United States (U.S.). Furthermore, every two minutes women die worldly while giving birth, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
The alarming statistics is understandable why some may fear child labor. Lack of prenatal care and support can devastatingly turn the celebrated experience awry. Merck for Mothers is a health initiative working to find medical advancements for mothers. The 10-year, $500 million health initiative has the support of global partners dedicated in ending maternal mortality. Merck’s program uses scientific advancements and business to help decrease mortality.
Merck for Mothers started a campaign called, “Once upon a Birth” to encourage women to have a candid conversation about birthing. When mothers stand together and tell their story on Merck for Mothers Facebook page, Merck will donate to “Join my Village” that empowers women and girls. The CARE program also supports safe pregnancies and deliveries.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview celebrity mom and star of ABC Family’s television show “Melissa and Joey,” Melissa Joan Hart. She is a passionate mother who recently became a parent for the third time, and she supports women health care initiatives. Melissa discussed her partnership with Merck for Mothers and “Once upon a Birth,” and her balance of motherhood and actress.
A mother of three, Melissa understands the importance of individuals being able candidly to discuss and educate each other about health care preventatives. Melissa felt inspired to advocate for Merck for Mothers after hearing the staggering statistics of maternal mortalities, and also after hearing women openly and honestly tell their story through Merck for Mothers on Facebook.
How can mothers get involved?
[By] going to Merck for Mothers and [share their story]. I shared my video [birth] story [of] Tucker (Melissa Joan Hart’s newborn son). Every mom, sister, or if you heard your birth story from your mother, husbands; you can go share [your] story on the Facebook. For every story shared, a donation will be made to a program called, “Join my Village,” which empowers women and helps educate people all over the world about the importance of prenatal care, and helping [to] train midwives and husbands to be more involved and try to help prevent maternal mortalities.
What are the contributing factors to maternal mortalities?
Lack of prenatal care and the two main things are the hemorrhaging and preeclampsia. With the right diagnosis and medical care, you can prevent these things. 90 percent of maternal mortalities are preventable and 800 women die every day in the world including in the U.S. [People] think that we’re safe from it in the [U.S], but a lot of women still don’t get the right prenatal care or there are always complications, and without the right people around you or without being educated yourself, you might not know about preventative factors.
Do you think that death is a common fear most women have during child birth?
I think that it’s always an underlying fear for women. It’s something that’s maybe in the back of their minds, but not really talked about anymore; [however], it’s still happening. It is important to talk about. In the U.S. it seems like we’re immune to that kind of thing, but we’re not. In any medical case without taking care of yourself… there’s a risk if you’re not well prepared.
Was it easier giving birth the 3rd time around?
No, there’s no easy way to bring a baby into this world [laughter]. I’ve tried it three very different ways, and I’ve decided that there’s no easy way. It’s something that we do because we love our babies and it’s difficult, but every story is so different. That’s what I love about [“Once upon a Birth”] campaign, going on the Facebook page (Merck for Mothers) and being able to check out other people’s story. There are really no two stories alike, it’s really so individual just like every pregnancy is different and every baby is different. You just never know what kind of story you’re going to hear about complications, or about successes. That way it can be entertaining, it’s going to help mothers around the world be able to see their children grow up, and it’s just a nice thing to do.
How do you find balance between being a career woman and mother?
It’s an everyday sort of challenge, but it’s a matter of getting my priorities straight… planning ahead, but also being flexible. Every day is just a different priority.
Do you find it easier being an actress now that you’re a wife and mother?
It’s definitely easy not having to do school. Balancing school and a job is also as difficult as balancing a family and a job. It has different challenges, but I definitely prefer being a mom.
What can we expect from your character “Mel” on the new season of Melissa & Joey?
We’re starting our third season this spring. I actually don’t know this year; I haven’t seen the new scripts yet. We ended season two with Joey marrying a Russian colleague, so I guess when we come back he’ll still be married to her, but she got sent back to Russia, so I don’t know how that’s going to go. They always tease the relationship between [my character] and Joey, and there’s always that ‘will they, won’t they’ thing.
What is it like working with Joey Lawrence, and do you ever tease him with “whoa?”
[I never tease him with “Whoa”]. Actors don’t really do that, we sort of understand that that time has come and gone. We did play to it a little bit on the show [with a “whoa” or “Sabrina” or “Clarissa” reference]. We [also] had a “Dancing with the Stars” reference because we were both on the show.
How can fans keep in touch?
I am on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram [under the name] melissajoanhart. I wrote a [memoir] book that will be out next September, called “Melissa Explains it All.”
Childbirth is difficult; however, being educated about proper prenatal measures is important. Merck for Mothers and the “Once upon a Birth” campaign gives individuals the opportunity to share birthing stories on Facebook and help each other in preventing maternal mortality.