For the majority of parents, childbirth is a time of happiness and the process is without complication, resulting in a healthy mother and child.
However, pregnancy and labour can be a potentially risky time for them.
Despite the technological advances that we have achieved, mothers and babies still die, not only in the Third World but in Britain.
We can put a man on the moon, but often the journey for a baby through the birth canal remains the most hazardous that we will take in life.
There are so many aspects of pregnancy and childbirth that remain an enigma for us.
However, the demands and expectations of the population in the western world are very high. We expect a perfect outcome every time.
We don't expect our child to die in childbirth, be affected by a congenital disorder, or be kept on an intensive care unit because of prematurity. Mothers may also become ill in pregnancy and labour, and, rarely, may die.
The majority of women do not have any complications in pregnancy, but the potential complications, when they do occur, can be distressing for a family.
Over recent years the amount of research into pregnancy and labour has declined, mainly due to a reduction in the availability of research money in this field.
Very often money is donated to the neonatal units that look after sick babies after delivery, while the units that look after the pregnancy and delivery (which are separate) are forgotten.
But it is vitally important that the pregnancy and labour are not forgotten, as it is often complications occurring at that time that can cause problems with the baby.
If these complications can be prevented, the baby would not be ill.
There is so much that we do not understand about pregnancy and labour. What causes pre-eclampsia ( toxaemia)? What causes premature labour? Why do some babies die in the womb? What makes some babies fail to grow in the womb?
As the founder of Baby Lifeline, the mother and baby charity, I experienced the devastating and consecutive loss of three babies, all born prematurely, before going on to have three healthy children.
At the time of loss, there was very little that anyone could offer in the way of a reason.
So much has progressed since then, and the care that I received during pregnancy after that was exceptional.
Part of Baby Lifeline's remit is to help to fund ongoing research into maternity care, but also to fund the continuing education and training of doctors and midwives. We do not pretend to take over the training and education of staff entirely, but we complement the training that is already undertaken.
Likewise, we provide some research money to support projects that are considered important in the field, but which might not otherwise obtain funding. In a small way, we hope to be able to contribute to improvements in the care of women in pregnancy and labour.
* Judy Ledger is founder of Baby Lifeline