The patient is nine months pregnant and in good health. With the proper care, she has much to look forward to.

But then, her labor becomes complicated and her doctor prepares to perform an emergency cesarean delivery. Suddenly, she’s facing a life-threatening event. Her odds of contracting a deadly infection are high, putting both herself and her child at risk.

This may sound like a scenario from the distant past. But it actually may be a glimpse of our not-so-distant future.

Cesarean deliveries put women at risk of serious bacterial infections. And the antibiotics that fight those infections and protect the lives of mothers and children are becoming less and less effective. New antibiotics are urgently needed, and drug companies aren’t developing them fast enough. Unless policymakers curb antibiotic misuse and catalyze research and development of new antibiotics, millions of women may not survive childbirth in the coming decades.

Whenever anyone takes an antibiotic, some bacteria survive. Over time, those microbes adapt, learning how to resist treatment. These survivors then multiply into drug-resistant pathogens, or “superbugs.”

Superbugs already kill 700,000 people worldwide each year. The death toll could reach 10 million by 2050 if we don’t take steps to slow antibiotic resistance.

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