Weird History

Maternal Mortality: Famous Women Who Died In Childbirth

Maternal death was a common tragedy in older days. In ancient times, maternal mortality rates were particularly high and generally related to complications during delivery. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother's death as recently as the early 20th century. So not dying in childbirth was a big concern in the not-too-distant history. 

Experts say obesity and giving birth in late 30s and 40s, increases the risk of maternal deaths. Death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States now and the rate of the maternal death in childbirth has plummeted in the 20th century worldwide.

This list features famous women who died in childbirth, such as Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, the first wife of President Theodore Roosevelt. There are also queens who died in childbirth, such as Barbara Zápolya of Poland. 

  • Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna of Russia (Russian: Алекса́ндра Гео́ргиевна; née Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark (Greek: Πριγκίπισσα Αλεξάνδρα της Ελλάδας και της Δανίας); 30 August 1870 ...more
  • Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia (Russian: Александра Павловна: 9 August 1783 [OS 29 July] at Tsarskoye Selo – 16 March 1801 in Buda) was a daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia and sister ...more
  • Alice Hathaway Roosevelt (née Lee; July 29, 1861 – February 14, 1884) was an American socialite and the first wife of President Theodore Roosevelt. Less than two days after giving birth to their only ...more
  • Alix of Thouars (1200 – 21 October 1221) (in Breton Alis) ruled as Duchess of Brittany from 1203 until her death. She was also Countess of Richmond in the peerage of England.
  • Anna Charlotta Schröderheim, née Anna Charlotta von Stapelmohr, also called Ann-Charlotte or Anne-Charlotte, (24 September 1754 – 1 January 1791), was a Swedish noble, wit and salonist, spouse of the ...more
  • Anna Leopoldovna (Russian: А́нна Леопо́льдовна; 18 December 1718 – 19 March 1746), born Elisabeth Katharina Christine von Mecklenburg-Schwerin and also known as Anna Carlovna (А́нна Ка́рловна), was ...more
  • Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia, Tsesarevna of Russia (Anna Petrovna Romanova) Russian: Анна Петровна; 27 January 1708, in Moscow – 4 March 1728, in Kiel) was the elder daughter of Emperor ...more
  • Anna of Schweidnitz (Świdnica) (also known as Anne or Anna of Świdnica, Czech: Anna Svídnická, Polish: Anna Świdnicka, German: Anna von Schweidnitz und Jauer) (Świdnica, 1339 – 11 July 1362 in ...more
  • Barbara Zápolya (1495–1515) was Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania as the first wife of King Sigismund I the Old. Marriage to Barbara represented an alliance between Sigismund and the ...more
  • Blanche of Navarre (1226 – 12 August 1283), also known as Blanche of Champagne, was the daughter of Theobald the Troubador, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne, and his second wife Agnes of ...more
  • Catherine Parr (sometimes alternatively spelled Katherine, Katheryn, Kateryn or Katharine) (1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen of England and Ireland (1543–47) as the last of the six wives of King ...more
  • Charlotte Christine Sophie also known as Sophie Charlotte or simply Charlotte (28 August 1694, Wolfenbüttel – 2 November 1715, Saint Petersburg), was the wife of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich of Russia. ...more
  • Christiana Juliana Oxenstierna (23 September 1661 – 27 February 1701) was a Swedish noble. She was the center of a great social scandal when she married a non-noble against her family’s consent. Her ...more
  • Eleanor de Montfort, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon (1252 – 19 June 1282) was an English noble. She was the daughter of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England. She ...more
  • Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg (4 May 1679 – 27 June 1704), Countess of Antvorskov, was a Danish noble and lady-in-waiting of German origin. She was the royal mistress of King Frederick IV of Denmark ...more
  • Elisabeth of Valois (Spanish: Isabel de Valois; French: Élisabeth de France) (2 April 1545 – 3 October 1568) was a Spanish queen consort as the third spouse of Philip II of Spain. She was the eldest ...more
  • Elizabeth of York (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503) was the first queen consort of England of the Tudor dynasty from 18 January 1486 until her death, as the wife of Henry VII. She married Henry ...more
  • Emilia "Emilie" Maria Sara Sofia Uggla (24 February 1819 in Karlstad – 15 February 1855 in Upperud), was a Swedish noble classical concert pianist and concert singer. Emilia Uggla was the daughter of ...more
  • Gabrielle d'Estrées, Duchess of Beaufort and Verneuil, Marchioness of Monceaux (French pronunciation: ​[ɡabʁiɛl dɛstʁe]; 1573 – 10 April 1599) was a mistress, confidante and adviser of Henry IV of ...more
  • Flavia Galla (died 394) was an empress of the Roman Empire and a princess of the Western Roman Empire. She was the second empress consort of Theodosius I. She was the daughter of Valentinian I and ...more
  • Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (4 October 1922 – 28 April 1962) was an Italian Roman Catholic pediatrician. Molla refused both an abortion and a hysterectomy while pregnant with her fourth child despite ...more
  • Natalia Alexeievna, Tsarevna of Russia (25 June 1755 – 26 April 1776), was the first wife of Paul Petrovich, Tsarevich of Russia (future Emperor Paul I), son of the Empress Catherine II. She was born ...more
  • Hedvig Ulrika Taube (31 October 1714 – 11 February 1744), also Countess von Hessenstein was a Swedish courtier and countess, a Holy Roman countess of the Empire, and royal mistress to king Frederick ...more
  • Ingeborg Eriksdotter (c. 1212 – 17 June 1254) was a Swedish princess and duchess, daughter of King Eric X of Sweden, eldest sibling of King Eric XI of Sweden, wife of Birger Jarl, and mother of Kings ...more
  • Isabella Mary Beeton (née Mayson; 14 March 1836 – 6 February 1865), known as Mrs Beeton, was an English journalist, editor and writer. Her name is particularly associated with her first book, the ...more