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Bloggers for Birth Kits: Helping moms in developing nations by reducing maternal mortality

Update March 2014: Over 10,000 clean birth kits donated and promised as of last count. Amazing.

Help save a mama’s life this Mothers Day

bloggers for birth kits baby papua new guinea

Have you ever had a rough day parenting where everything’s gone wrong? The baby won’t stop crying, the toddler won’t stop yelling, the dinner is burning, your well-laid-out plans fell through, the laundry’s refusing to fold itself, and the energy to cope just. isn’t. there?

Of course you have.

One of my hardest stints as a mom was around this time last year. I was in that I’m-so-tired-I-might-die part of early pregnancy. My toddler was teething molars and consequently not sleeping well (hello overtired, overactive bundle of fire!). It was Melt Down City around here. My husband was away on a work trip in Papua New Guinea for four weeks and I was feeling overwhelmed by going at it alone.

Mothers Day was approaching and I was feeling mopey and sorry for myself. Who would make me breakfast in bed? Who would give me a day “off” to do something meeeeee-centered that I enjoyed? Who would bring me flowers?

At some point of wallowing in my own self-centeredness, I began to think of moms in places that would never expect to be celebrated the way I was assuming I “deserved”.

bloggers for birth kits mama and baby

I thought of moms like the ones in rural Papua New Guinea where the rate of maternal death is 1 in 7 and it shook me right out of my pathetic, self-centered pity party.

After all, if I had birthed my firstborn in PNG, would I still be alive today? Would my friends?

Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I decided that I would focus on honoring these precious and brave women by doing my small part to make their lives better.

In that moment…

bloggers for birth kits logo 150

Bloggers for Birth Kits was born – the first initiative of the Love A Mama Community.

Clean birth kits can save lives

Did you know that a simple clean birth kit can help save a mom’s life? Did you know that for around $2-3 you can assemble one? And did you know that everything you need to make one can be found easily and quickly at your local hardware store and pharmacy?

Look how simple these clean birth kits are…

clean birth kit contents bloggers for birth kits

And yet, even in their simplicity, they can mark the difference between life and death for a woman unable to get to a regional clinic for birthing her baby.

Clean Birth Kit specifics

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).

Will you join me?

This year, in honor of Mothers Day, will you join me in making a difference in the area of maternal and infant care in the developing world by contributing to the Love A Mama clean birth kit drive?

bloggers for birth kits volunteer handing out birth kits in papua new guinea

How to get involved in Love A Mama’s Bloggers for Birth Kits:

CRITICAL UPDATE AS OF MARCH 2014: If you are interested in assembling clean birth kits or getting involved another way, please check my Love A Mama Clean Birth Kit FAQ page where I will continue to post the latest relevant information.

Here is a video that I made during our first year of collecting clean birth kits. (Feel free to repost it or link to it.) During the first part I tell the story of how B4BK was born, and from the 3-minute mark you can see step-by-step instructions for how to assemble your own kit.

Moms loving moms

I know from the response to Love A Mama’s Bloggers for Birth Kits campaign last year that moms care about moms. We love our children and we know without a doubt that every mother’s heart beats the same. When given the chance we are quick to lend a hand to other mamas in need.

Why don’t you consider donating funds or—even better—gathering a group of your mama-friends together to assemble your own box of kits?

200 clean birth kits

200 clean birth kits recently assembled by some friends and I… now ready to sail to PNG!

These kits, along with hundreds more, are sailing on our Medical Ship, to Papua New Guinea. (Ryan and I will take the boys to join our volunteers there in August. And let me tell you – we. can’t. wait.)

Dear friends, will you consider extending beyond yourself this Mothers Day to remember her who doesn’t enjoy the luxuries that you and I do? And will you make a tangible step to improve or save the life of a mama you’ve never met?

Please visit the FAQs page and feel free to leave a comment here or email me if you have any questions about getting involved.

 

P.S. Wondering what to get your mom for Mothers Day?

If you’d like to give your mom (or granny or another special woman) a meaningful gift this Mothers Day, consider making a donation to B4BK on her behalf. I will email you a personalized printable that you can include in her card:

Cut-off for Mothers Day cards

If you’d like to make a donation that includes a Mothers Day card the deadline is Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Link up your Bloggers for Birth Kit posts

Bloggers, if you write a post promoting B4BirthKits, please link it up below.

 

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About Adriel

Adriel Booker is a writer, speaker, and difference-maker living Down Under with her Aussie love and littles where they serve in full-time ministry (and full-time parenting) together. She writes about celebrating motherhood, building families, strengthening faith, enjoying life, empowering women, changing the world, and telling the story.

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80 Responses to Bloggers for Birth Kits: Helping moms in developing nations by reducing maternal mortality

  1. melissa April 25, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    i am so excited about this! i can’t wait to start talking people into this great cause, what a great gift for mother’s day – teaching your kids to value situations like this :)

  2. Amy Sullivan April 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Thanks for hosting…you know I love this idea!
    Amy Sullivan recently posted..Roadside Births and Ruby DoMy Profile

  3. Brandy April 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    What a wonderful project Adriel! I’m excited to tell more people about this cause! Great work!
    Brandy recently posted..New WidgetsMy Profile

  4. Jessica W April 25, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Oh how I love this Adriel! What an amazingly simple yet huge idea to help mommies and babies. I am excited to partner with you to get the word out!
    Jessica W recently posted..Memory Keeping – A Reflection of You {Giveaway}My Profile

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos April 26, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      mmmm…. some of the best ideas are simple, right? i know these birth kits aren’t “the” solution, but they are certainly part of it!! thanks for your help.

  5. Bo April 26, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Love this, Adriel! I’ll share it on my blog on Monday. It seems the perfect gift for a brand new mom I happen to know. :)

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos April 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      thanks so much bo. really appreciate you lending your influence to spread the word through your community. x

  6. Jhen.Stark April 26, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    I love that you are continuing this! Here’s to mama’s around the world!

  7. Megan @ the boho mama April 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    What a wonderful cause! I’m having the ladies from my home community over later this month to make a bunch, and we’re all excited about it!
    Megan @ the boho mama recently posted..save lives: bloggers for birth kitsMy Profile

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos April 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      that’s wonderful megan. donating money is great, but donating kits is so much better. there’s something powerful about physically putting them together. it will leave a mark on those woman and help them to remember the mamas they’re serving. thank you!
      Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos recently posted..mother letters | will you remember her?My Profile

  8. Krystle April 27, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    My link will be up tomorrow! Such a great and easy way to help!
    Krystle recently posted..Not just about the Mommy here…My Profile

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos April 27, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Awesome, thanks Krystle!! Come back and leave me think when it’s up!

      Appreciate your help in getting the word out! x

  9. Whitney April 27, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    This is such an amazing idea…I am so glad I found this! (thank you Georgia at Gregarious Peach!) Thank you so much for putting this together, I will be blogging about it very shortly to try and spread the word.
    Whitney recently posted..My Miraculous MorningMy Profile

    • Adriel @ The Memos April 27, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Thanks Whitney. That would be wonderful! x Please come back and leave your link when you do. I’d love to visit. :)

  10. melissa April 27, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I would love to donate one of my mobiles to this cause. They average around $80 a piece and that would make quite a few birth bags. I wounder how I could go about doing this?

    • Adriel @ The Memos April 27, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Thanks Melissa. I just clicked over to your Etsy story and those are so cute!! How about doing an online “auction” of sorts? We could give it to the highest bidder and then you could donate the proceeds toward birth kits. Let me know what you think of that idea! :)

  11. Jessica April 27, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    This is such an awesome cause, Adriel! I can’t wait to get involved! :-)
    Jessica recently posted..Growing|Because Parents Get MeMy Profile

  12. Donna April 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    This is wonderful, I’m going to post on my blog, and will be asking for some kit assembly time as part of my Mother’s Day celebration.

  13. Emma April 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Hi,
    I wondered if donations can be sent from the uk? I’ve added the button to my blog and would like to do a post on awareness too, is it ok to share your photos?

    Many Thanks
    Emma
    Emma recently posted..Phone Photo DumpMy Profile

    • Adriel @ The Memos April 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Yes Emma! It would be great to get some birth kits from the UK. Of course! ;)

      Feel free to use some quotes or photos from here – yes!! (And come back to link your post as well so that I can be sure to see it.)

      thank you for getting involved!!
      Adriel @ The Memos recently posted..parenting to build relationships, not robotsMy Profile

  14. Mary @ Noah Baby April 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    What a fantastic initiative! Like Donna, I’m hoping to incorporate this a project to do at my Mother’s Day brunch!
    Mary @ Noah Baby recently posted..PINTEREST INSPIRATION: NOAH’S NEW ROOMMy Profile

  15. Becky April 30, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    This birth kits aren’t sterile, I’m really concerned about the risks of sending unsterile string and gauze, and prehandled gloves. What organization are you working with? Do they actually use these kits? It surprises me that a reputable organization would use such a kit. It seems that it would be better to raise funds to send kits with sealed cord clips/gauze/gloves to ensure sterility.

    • Lisa April 30, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      I agree. I think there are other ways to put this kit together for around the same price that would include legit medical supplies in a sterile container. Ziplock baggies just are not safe enough.

      • Adriel @ The Memos April 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

        Hi Lisa. I’ve responded to your concerns in a reply on Becky’s comment, but I’m not sure how the notifications work so I’m letting you know here too.
        Adriel

    • Becky April 30, 2012 at 3:00 am #

      If you look at midwifery supply companies that sell home birth kits, you can purchase sterile, sealed glove pairs, gauze pads, cord clamps etc. These would be much safer than encouraging women to handle these supplies. Maybe you could even find one of these organizations willing to partner with you for a discount?

      • Adriel @ The Memos April 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

        Thank you for your concerns Becky and Lisa.

        The supplies we use are meant to be easily replicable in developing nations where access to the kind of medical supplies you’re talking about is limited. These are some of the poorest and most remote areas. The more “normal” and uncomplicated the supplies are (ie easy to find within their own markets), the more likely it is that 1) women in the villages will use them; and 2) that they will reproduce them for other women when their supply of kits run out. (Additionally, the smaller and simpler the kits, the more we are able to pack/distribute…. the more mothers and babies we can help.)

        All of the women our medical workers come into contact with are encouraged to try and get to a local clinic to give birth and/or have the aid of a traditional birth attendant. That is best case scenario, providing women with a more hygienic birth environment and access to better supplies. The women we’re trying to help are ones who get caught giving birth in their canoe on the way there, or get caught at home unattended. These are not “planned” home births such as you and I would imagine. Studies have shown that this type of simple kit drastically reduces the chance of infection (one of the leading causes of maternal death in the developing world).

        These kits are distributed through YWAM Medical Ships (the link it above). You can also find more info on the Australian Birthing Kits Foundation, United Nations Population Fund, and WHO websites if you’d like to read further about clean birth kits and the studies that have been done related to their effectiveness.

        I hope I’ve shed some light on your concerns. Please let me know if I can help further – I will certainly try!
        -Adriel
        Adriel @ The Memos recently posted..mother letters | will you remember her?My Profile

  16. Sarah @ Parenting God's Children May 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Is there a deadline for sending birth kits in? I just found out about this and want to organize a get together to assemble a bunch, but don’t want to be too late! Thanks!

  17. Zoo Animals Disguised as Children May 4, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    I posted this to my blog! Great idea.
    Zoo Animals Disguised as Children recently posted..Bloggers for birth kitsMy Profile

  18. viviene May 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Wow! What a great campaign! I will be sharing this for sure! And will be with you in prayer as well. PNG has a very special place in my heart. Back in 2008, I stayed there for a month for a mission trip through NTM. It’s great that you are able to help the women here.

  19. Adriel @ The Memos May 5, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    As of today we have 1376 kits donated. This is amazing guys!!!
    Adriel @ The Memos recently posted..who’s the expert, anyway? | the struggle between parenting books and trusting yourselfMy Profile

  20. Kelly M May 5, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    Hi,
    My New Mom’s group would really like to get together and have a birth kit making party….but…we live in Canada, and when I looked at postage rates to Australia I think it’s a little out of all of our budgets. Do you know of a company in North America that is doing similar work, or do you have a drop off in North America at all? If not, we can donate money but I’d much rather have a chance to get together an make kits! Thanks for all of the wonderful work that you do!

    • Adriel @ The Memos May 5, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks for wanting to get involved Kelly! Unfortunately we don’t have a drop-off in the States. And yes, postage can be very costly!

      I agree with you that it “better” in some ways to gather women and make the kits yourself. I suppose you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it once you “subtract” the postage from your costs though.

      Not sure if there’s another organization that distributes clean birth kits in developing nations that is based in America. It’s worth your googling though! Even if you don’t send them to us, I’m just glad that you’d make them and send them to another place. It’s all helping women in need. :)

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have further questions.
      Adriel @ The Memos recently posted..who’s the expert, anyway? | the struggle between parenting books and trusting yourselfMy Profile

  21. Krista May 8, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    I have supplies on the way to me for 100 kits for my friends and I to put together and then send on to you. Thank you for organizing this.

  22. Adriel Booker May 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    May 11: We are up to 3091!!!

    Happy Mothers Day, indeed. xxo
    Adriel Booker recently posted..breastfeeding is a big deal: normalizing what’s already normalMy Profile

  23. Mrs Loquacious May 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I’ve donated 25 kits, in case you want to add that to the count. :) Thank you for starting such a meaningful movement and cause. :)
    Mrs Loquacious recently posted..It’s No Sacrifice At AllMy Profile

  24. Bill Hutchison May 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    I’ve renewed the domains http://bloggersforbirthkits.com/ and http://bloggers4birthkits.com/ for the next three years and redirected them to this post.

    Love what you are doing with this initiative Adriel.
    Bill Hutchison recently posted..Christians Should Always be Happy!My Profile

    • Adriel Booker May 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

      Oh geeze. Thank you Bill. I have been meaning to do this… Next year I need to recruit someone to help me with admin as it’s so much more work behind the scenes than you’d think… and hard to do it all late at night after the boys are in bed. This has carried over my giant to-do list for toooo long. Thank you for being GRACE to me! :) I’m very grateful!

  25. Zoo Animals Disguised as Children June 29, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I finally sent my kits! Sorry they are soooo late!!
    Zoo Animals Disguised as Children recently posted..Finally!My Profile

  26. Brandy February 16, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Hi! I was looking at the FAQ and one of the questions was hot to get plastic sheets easier. Are packages of plastic/vinyl table cloths accepted? They’re always on clearance, and pre-cut.

  27. jillian rose December 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    just wondering if you are still collecting and in need of kits?

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