UPDATE: Getty Images asked us to remove this picture because of concerns about the welfare of the people depicted.
Nawzia, 23, holds her ten-day-old twins—one girl, one boy—at a hospital in Faizabad (map), Afghanistan, on June 2.
One in eight Afghan mothers dies in pregnancy or childbirth—the worst such rate of any country, according to UNICEF. Among the disadvantages cited by the agency: pregnancy at an early age, extreme poverty, a dearth of midwives, and a culture that discourages women from leaving home without a male, resulting in vitamin D deficiencies, due to lack of sun exposure, and poor access to medical care.
Why it's a Nat Geo pick: "There's an intimacy to it. You get a sense for the frailty of the babies, and also ... you can tell it's not easy."—Alexa Keefe, photo editor, National Geographic Digital Media
(See "Veiled Rebellion": more pictures of Afghan women bucking the odds.)