Two weeks ago I packed my hospital bag … and another bag for the new baby. I largely followed the Doctor & Daughter kit list: essentials such as toothbrush, breast pads, nappies, etc and a few luxuries including my iPad, chocolate bars and my eye mask.
It was quite an eye-opener therefore to come across a project by international charity WaterAid unveiling what women from around the globe pack in their maternity bags.
Many of the items they’re taking with them to hospital are life-savers rather than luxuries. Some of the mothers interviewed by WaterAid couldn’t rely on the hospital having clean water, sanitation and hygienic conditions during their labour and packed accordingly.
Inside the maternity bag of 23-year-old Ellen, who lives in Malawi, there is a razor blade which midwives use to cut the umbilical cord.
Ellen also had to pack her own plastic sheet for the delivery bed in order to help maintain personal hygiene, as there is no clean water at the health centre to clean the beds between births.
It’s a similar story for 27-year-old Hazel at the health centre in Hamakando village, Zambia. She explains she too has to take a plastic sheet for the bed.
“We have a borehole at the clinic but there is no running water in the maternity ward,” she says.
The maternity bags project is part of WaterAid’s Deliver Life appeal, which aims to reach 130,000 mums and their families around the world this winter with safe water. Every pound donated to WaterAid’s Deliver Life appeal until 10th February will be doubled by the UK Government – meaning WaterAid can help twice as many mothers and babies stay safe and well.
Every minute a newborn baby dies from infection caused by a lack of safe water and an unclean environment.
Through the Deliver Life appeal, WaterAid wants to ensure healthcare facilities have access to clean water and have adequate toilets and are committed to good hygiene practice and promotion.