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Around the world, May is a time to celebrate mothers and the health workers who help them enter motherhood. Dozens of countries observe Mother’s Day in May and, on 5 May, the International Day of the Midwife honours the life-saving work of midwives everywhere. Yet this May, as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the world, these celebrations arrive on a sombre note. With health systems stretched, movement restrictions in place and concerns about disease exposure in health-care settings, mothers and midwives are risking their own health and lives to bring new life into the world. This May, UNFPA applauds midwives and celebrates mothers, and calls for partners and governments around the world to take every possible step to ensure their safety and health.