A comparison by Save the Children has found that Sweden is the second best country in the world in which to be a mother.  Nordic countries topped the rankings, with Finland as number one. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa propped up the list.

Babies born in the United States had a risk of death twice as high as in the EU countries.

"By investing in mothers and children, nations are investing in their future prosperity. If women are educated, are represented politically, and have access to good-quality maternal and child care, then they and their children are much more likely to survive and thrive – and so are the societies they live in. Huge progress has been made across the developing world, but much more can be done to save and improve millions of the poorest mothers' and newborns' lives.", Save the Children International's chief executive, Jasmine Whitbread, said.

The Save the Children mothers' index, now in its 14th year, records not only the likelihood of death in pregnancy or labour but also the difficulties women face when they become mothers. The charity scores countries on maternal health, child mortality, education, women's income and women's political status.