The 10 best countries to be a mother

  • Save the Children released a State of the World’s Mothers report ranking the best countries to be a mother.
  • The countries were ranked based on maternal health, children’s well-being, economic and educational status, and the participation of women in government.
  • The countries also offer generous amounts of paid maternity leave.
  • Norway, Finland, and Iceland were the top three best countries for mothers.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The safety of mothers while giving birth, how much time they have to recover, and the well-being of children after they’re born largely depend on where a woman resides in the world.

Save the Children, a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s lives worldwide, released a State of the World’s Mothers report ranking the best countries to be a mother based on maternal health, children’s well-being, the country’s overall economic and educational status, and the participation of women in the government.

We used Save the Children’s ranking of the best countries to be a mother, but we also looked at each country’s maternity leave policies according to a report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The countries all offer new mothers considerable and paid maternity leave.

Here are the 10 best countries to be a mother, featuring maternal health and leave, specifically.


10. Belgium

Mark G. Renders/WireImage/GettyThen-princess Mathilde of Belgium talks to a young mother during a visit at a hospital in Brussels in 2009.

Belgium is a relatively safe place to give birth with a lifetime risk of maternal death of one in 8,700 births. Belgium also offers 15 weeks of paid maternity leave at a rate of 64.1% of the woman’s salary, which equates to 9.6 weeks of full-time pay.


9. Australia

Don Arnold/Getty ImagesMother and daughter take a dip at Red Leaf Beach in Sydney, Australia.

The average cost of giving birth in Australia is around $US5,312 for a standard delivery, and the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 9,000 births. Australia’s maternity leave is 18 weeks at the average pay rate of 42% of the woman’s salary, coming out to 7.5 weeks of full-time pay.


8. Germany

Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesSingle mother watches volunteers play with her 11-month-old daughter in Berlin, Germany, in October 2012.

The cost of giving birth in Germany is relatively low, around $US2,500. The lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 11,000. German mothers are also guaranteed 14 weeks of maternity leave with their full-time salary.


7. Spain

Mothers in Spain don’t have to grapple with expensive hospital bills: the average cost of giving birth is $US1,950. The lifetime risk of maternal death is only one in every 15,100 births. After a baby is born, mothers get 16 weeks of maternity leave with full-time pay.


6. The Netherlands

Marcel Antonisse/AFP/Getty ImagesA mother skates as she pushes a stroller on a frozen lake in Loosdrecht in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 10,700. Like Spain, the Netherlands offers 16 weeks of maternity leave with full-time pay. It also provides benefits to new mothers including access to a maternity nurse with the cost (or part of it) covered by insurance.


5. Sweden

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty ImagesMothers with their babies meet at Sollentuna library north of Stockholm in Sweden.

The lifetime risk of maternal death in Sweden is one in 13,600. Sweden offers 480 days of parental leave (for both parents). During 390 of those days, parents are entitled to 80% of their full-time pay.


4. Denmark

Lars Ronbog/FrontZoneSport via Getty ImagesA mother and baby attend a game at Br√łndby Stadium in Brondby, Denmark.

The lifetime maternal death risk in Denmark is one in 12,000. Denmark also offers 18 weeks of maternity leave divided into four weeks off before the birth and 14 weeks after at 53.6% of their full-time salary.


3. Iceland

Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty ImagesIceland supporters at a football match at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France.

The lifetime risk of maternal death in Iceland is one in 11,500. The country’s maternity leave policy offers 13 weeks of leave at a pay rate of 59% of a woman’s full-time salary.


2. Finland

Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty ImagesA mother and her 10-month-old son swim during a baby-swimmer course in Vaasa, Finland.

The lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 15,100 in Finland. Mothers also get 17.5 weeks off for maternity leave at 74.4% of their full-time pay, which comes out to 13 weeks of fully-paid time off.


1. Norway

Norway’s lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 14,900 births. Mothers can take 35 weeks of maternity leave at full-time pay or 45 weeks at 80% pay. Parents can also receive an additional 46 weeks off at full-time pay or 56 weeks at 80% of their salary.

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