Bloggers for Birth Kits FAQ
Bloggers for Birth Kits is an initiative of the Love A Mama Collective
Clean birth kits are used in developing nations to help reduce maternal mortality, especially in nations like Papua New Guinea where rural areas have a 1 in 7 maternal death rate and Nepal where 12 women die every day in childbirth. For more information on the what, why, and how clean birth kits can make a difference in these areas, please read about Love a Mama’s Bloggers for Birth Kits Mothers Day Drive.
Frequently asked questions:
What are the contents of a clean birth kit?
1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).
2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.
5. Three pieces of string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.
7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).
Can I still send clean birth kits?
Yes! We can receive clean birth kits year-round at various locations/non-profits that serve in the area of women’s health. As of April 2015, I am filtering birth kits to a location in central India (via a distributing organization based in Australia). Please email me for up-to-date specifics. You will also need to download, print, and complete this form to mail along with your package.
I’ve found the plastic sheets to be a bit of a hassle. Do you know of any pre-cut plastic sheets?
I do not. (Let me know if you find some!) I know it’s not very convenient, but the most cost-effective route I’ve found is to buy the large plastic sheets and cut them down to size. You can find these in the painting section, or even use disposable table cloths if they fold down easily. Cutting the sheets to size is the most “difficult” (time-consuming) part of putting the kits together, so factor that in when you’re planning your kit making day.
Does it matter if the blades are sterilized or individually packaged?
No. Birth kits can have utility blades or sterile medical blades. Our health workers teach the women and attendants to sterilize the blades using the boiling method. Often this works out better since the less “medical” the supplies appear, the more likely they are to use them and to be able to replicate them once they run out. Making the kits easily replicable is part of our strategy for being as developmental as possible with our assistance. (Below is a photo that I took of a piece of bamboo – a common object used to cut the cord in rural PNG. We were called to this birth site just after the mother had delivered her baby in order to assist with third stage labor – placenta delivery.)
Am I allowed to mail blades through the mail?
As far as I know this is not a problem. I did have one woman contact me saying that her mail service advised they could not be mailed, but I’ve received hundreds of packages of birth kits from several different nations (including hers) without any issues. If in doubt check with your local carrier or call in advance.
Shipping overseas is expensive. Is there a US address I can ship to instead?
Please email me and I’ll let you know which center is currently in need of kits. In general, if you’re concerned about shipping costs, PLEASE email me this BEFORE you make assumptions so I can let you know which nation needs them and you can budget and plan accordingly. I do not have the finances to redirect clean birth kits to other locations on your behalf.
Since shipping is so expensive, am I better off just making a donation?
Your money might stretch a little farther if you make a donation for us to make the kits for you (so that you don’t have to factor in shipping costs), BUT it’s ideal if you can make them yourself. Why? Because when you physically put your hand to something it becomes more real to you. You take the issue into your heart just that little bit more. As much as I want to help combat maternal and infant mortality in the developing world, I also want to see women all over the developed world understand this issue so that we can advocate and mobilize our resources to save even more lives. My heart is to see them empowered AND to see you and I changed in the process. (Even if that just means being a little more grateful for our own children, medical care, opportunity, and privilege.) In saying all of that, yes, your financial donation probably stretches a little bit farther. The decision is purely up to you, and we’re so grateful for your donations either way. If you prefer to donate finances, you can give securely here.
Can I include other items in the birth kits such as diapers, a blanket, or something nice for the mother?
No. We need to keep the birth kits as compact and lightweight as possible so that we can pack several at a time into backpacks and canoes and send them into villages with health care workers, birth attendants, and midwives. One group of women, however, printed little notes on small (label-size) stickers that they put on kits with messages like “you are loved,” “you are beautiful,” “you are amazing,” and “you are special.” Now that is something extra that we can accommodate! (I loved it!!)
It doesn’t seem very sterile to have ordinary (non-medical) people assembling these birth kits. How do you ensure kits are packed carefully?
If you could see first-hand the conditions that many of these women currently give birth in (i.e. a dirty blanket on a mud floor or in a canoe while trying to get to a regional clinic), you would understand just what a vast leap of improvement in maternal care that these clean birth kits provide. (The pictures below are from three different birthing sites that we were summoned to during outreaches in Western Province, PNG. I personally took these photos and witnessed the birthing conditions first hand.) Although these photos are from PNG, women in rural villages all over the world give birth in similar environments—unattended and unsanitary birthing scenarios. In saying that, please ensure that the kits are packed hygienically and with great care. (More about that below.)
Anything else I need to know about assembling the kits?
Yes! Please make sure you are diligent with hand-washing (and wearing gloves when possible) while packing the contents of kits. Also, please ensure you do not pack soap next to gauze. Gauze is used to wipe the baby’s eyes and soap residue can sting!
How are monetary donations used?
Funds donated to Bloggers for Birth Kits go toward the assembly and distribution of clean birth kits as well as maternal education in developing nations. Money is given primarily through our gofundme.com account. We then purchase supplies and rally local volunteers to help put together the kits. One year a group raised more funds than we needed for birth kits so I contacted them about helping to sponsor a midwife supply backpack and some birth education tools instead. They were thrilled to not only provide kits but also help reinforce our birth education efforts and further equip our midwives and local birth attendants. In years past we’ve also received donations for other Love A Mama projects such as Project Baby Bilum (providing mothers with ring slings) and the Sunshine Project (delivering a solar-powered maternal care suitcase for a rural clinic where electricity is not accessible). We’ve also now begun a Midwifery Scholarship Fund to see midwives trained in the developing world, beginning with a rural area in central India. The projects may vary, but all of the funds we raise here go toward empowering women in the area of maternal health.
What should I do with left-over supplies? Can you use them?
Yes, we can! Please feel free to include any left-over supplies with your box of clean birth kits and we will incorporate those into future kits as we assemble them.
I sent a package of clean birth kits, how will I know when they arrive?
You must download and complete this form and include it with your package. Without your email address, we cannot let you know they’ve arrived safely. This is frustrating for both you and me, so pleasepleaseplease don’t forget to include this form.
Adriel, are you a midwife or a doula or nurse or something?
No, I am not! I’m a story-teller, educator, advocate, and mom who has a passion for maternal health and empowering women, especially in the developing world. Since the year 2000 I’ve worked for a non-profit Christian ministry called Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and my passion for maternal health was sparked specifically through my work with YWAM Medical Ships Australia as I began to meet the women of Papua New Guinea and understand the challenges they face as they give birth. I’ve joined several outreaches there, serving as a writer, photographer, social media liaison, and women’s health educator, teaching about breastfeeding, clean birth, and other maternal-child health issues alongside our midwives and nurses. (Read some of my stories here and here.)
Dear friends, please let me know if you have other questions that might be applicable for this FAQ list. Again, I’m amazed at your response, and humbled to be a part of something so wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you! The Love A Mama Collective is alive and well, impacting thousands of lives through simple initiatives of women empowering women.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Download and complete this form to be included with your package of clean birth kits.