New Zealand is the fourth-best country in the world to be a mum, beating Australia, Ireland and the UK, a major international study has revealed.

Save the Children's annual State of the World's Mothers report compares conditions in 165 countries, taking into account factors such as health, nutrition and education and economic status.

Norway topped the list and Niger was ranked the worst place to be a mother.

The results - announced five days before Mother's Day - reveal New Zealand's latest listing is two places better than last year's. The UK is 10th best, up three spots, and Australia slipped from second place to seventh.


Auckland mother-of-two Catherine Brown wasn't surprised New Zealand ranked highly and believed the level of support for new mums was a big factor.

"I think Plunket is a bit of a shining star in assisting mothers and motherhood and mothercraft. I think that makes a difference.''

Mrs Brown said she received good support from the organisation after having her son, 3, and nine-month-old daughter. Local coffee groups also provided good support, she said.

However, financial support for Kiwi mums could be improved to bring it in line with Australia and several other countries, Mrs Brown said.

"We had to scrimp and save and I had to jump in and out of the workforce.''

Plunket spokeswoman Nikki Hooper said mothers told them the level of help and support they got made New Zealand "a great place to be a mum''.

"New Zealand's Well Child service, which is free to all New Zealand parents, is a great source of support to families and is something that is unique to New Zealand. This is undoubtedly a huge factor in our ranking.''

Niger is among seven countries at the bottom of the list facing a food crisis.

A lack of essential food caused more than a third of child deaths - more than 2.6 million a year, said Save the Children.

The direct cost of the crisis affecting the developed and developing world is estimated at $20 billion to $30 billion a year.

Mother's breast milk saves a million children a year and programmes were needed to ensure all mothers had the support they needed to breastfeed, said Save the Children New Zealand chief executive Liz Gibbs.

2012 Mothers' Index Rankings

1. Norway

2. Iceland

3. Sweden

4. New Zealand

5. Denmark

6. Finland

7. Australia

8. Belgium

9. Ireland

10= Netherlands

10= United Kingdom


1. Niger

2. Afghanistan

3. Yemen

4. Guinea-Bissau

5. Mali

6. Eritrea

7. Chad

8= Sudan

South Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo