As thousands of moms, advocates, and visionaries tuned in for the Mom+Social summit, Christy Turlington Burns shared her personal story about getting involved with maternal health, and gave a sneak peak about an exciting announcement to come.
In the first minute of her 2010 documentary, No Woman, No Cry, model Christy Turlington Burns looks blissful, cradling her new baby daughter, Grace, in a white blanket at the St. Luke’s birthing center in New York. But within a minute, the midwife called for backup, and Turlington Burns began to hemorrhage. Then, there is an image of Turlington Burns’ bloody naked leg propped up on the shoulder of the midwife, as the obstetrician-midwife team manually extract the placenta—a process so painful, Turlington Burns said in an interview yesterday, that childbirth doesn’t begin to rival it. She said that in that moment, she felt that she “suddenly went from very proactive and powerful” to helpless.
The team managed to control the bleeding, and luckily Turlington Burns didn’t need a transfusion. But two years later, in 2005, she had a realization, a “visceral experience,” she said. She went with CARE to El Salvador, where her mother is from. She was pregnant with her son, Finn, and visiting other pregnant women in a rural town. It occurred to her: there was no clean water, no electricity, and no paved roads. If she’d gone through the same emergency there, “It would have been game over,” she said.