10 Best Countries for Moms

Think it's the U.S.? Guess again.

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Correction appended May 12, 2013

For Moms in Finland, every day is Mother’s Day. A new report from the non-profit Save the Children says the Nordic nation is the best country on the globe for mothers to live.

As the Atlantic reports, the child advocacy group’s 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers report relied on five key metrics for its rankings: per capita income, lifetime risk of maternal death, mortality rate for children under 5, education levels, and the frequency of women in governmental positions of power. It also focused on what it calls the Birth Day index, which compares death rates for newborn babies in 186 countries. As the Atlantic points out, however, the report did not take into account happiness or where women are having the most children.

(MORE: Where is The Best Place to Be Born in 2013?)

Scandinavia is definitely a good place to be a Mom: Sweden placed second,  Norway third, and Denmark sixth. In fact, all but one of the top 10 countries where Moms are the safest are European, with Australia placing tenth. The ten unsafest places for mothers are all located in Central Africa, with the Democratic Republic of Congo ranking worst. An estimated 98% of newborn and 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries where basic health care services are scarce.

The best news to emerge from the report is a dramatic decrease in maternal and child deaths overall. The annual number of children under age 5 who die each year dropped by more than 40%, from 12 million to 6.9 million, while the number of maternal deaths declined almost 50%, from 543,00 to 287,000, since 1990. An influx of community health workers has also helped countries like Tanzania and New Zealand to reduce infant morality rates.

(MORE: What’s Ailing America? U.S. Falls Behind in Health, Life Expectancy)

In more sobering news, the study ranked the U.S. 30th overall in mother and child well-being, with the most newborn deaths in the industrialized world. Though industrialized countries make up only 1% of the world’s newborn deaths, the U.S. still has 50% more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. The report attributes this to premature births and a high rate of teen pregnancy, among other reasons.

Check out the top 10 best and worst countries for mothers below, and see the full report here.

1) Finland
2) Sweden
3) Norway
4) Iceland
5) Netherlands
6) Denmark
7) Spain
8) Belgium
9) Germany
10) Australia

167) Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
168) Chad
169) Nigeria
170) Gambia
171) Central African Republic
172) Niger
173) Mali
174) Sierra Leone
175) Somalia
176) DR Congo

Correction: The original version of this story featured an outdated map of Finland’s borders and sparked considerable debate about whether the country is actually part of Scandinavia. The updated version of this article now refers to Finland as a Nordic nation.