maternal mortaility

Lauren Bavis / Side Effects Public Media

Courtney Reimlinger was breastfeeding her week-old son last year when she felt a pain in her chest.

The pain was excruciating, the 23-year-old Indianapolis native remembers, much worse than the 10 hours in labor she'd spent a week before. It spread up her neck and into her head, and soon she was slipping in and out of consciousness.

Officials and activists from around the world gathered in New York this week to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1995 World Conference on Women.

Although there were a lot of depressing statistics discussed at the current meeting, there was one piece of good news that many kept citing as reason for hope: Since 1995 the rate of women worldwide who die in childbirth has dropped by more than 40 percent.