Helping to reduce maternal and infant mortality in developing nations.
[2014 Love A Mama Update: over 10,000 clean birth kits donated!]
Every minute a women dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing nations. For every woman who dies in childbirth, another 30 women incur injuries and infections, which are often preventable. (Source: World Health Organization.)
Chances are if you’re a mother reading this blog, you are not one of them. Most likely you delivered your baby safely and hygienically in a hospital, birth center, or at home with the assistance of a qualified, experienced midwife, and had ready access to medical professionals throughout your pre- and post-natal care.
But hundreds of thousands of mothers around the world aren’t as lucky as you.
The organization that my husband and I volunteer for (YWAM Medical Ships) regularly sends teams of volunteer doctors, dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, nurses, midwives, educators, and other workers to address the needs of the poor in Papua New Guinea through mobile clinics on our ship and on land. We provide dental services, eye glasses, cataract surgeries, vaccines, primary health care, education, and other crucial services–including clean birth kits and maternal health education–to those who most need it.
In rural Papua New Guinea 1 in 7 women die in childbirth and that rate is simply unacceptable.
There are plenty of resources in the world to help these mothers and babies… they just need to be collected and redistributed.
This is where you come in.
Bloggers for Birth Kits is a simple initiative of the Love A Mama Community to rally bloggers (and friends of bloggers) to reach out and help mamas in Papua New Guinea. These women may seem very different to you… but they are mothers with the same heart – mothers who desire to deliver healthy, thriving babies just as we do. (The idea was born out of this post: Four Healthy Mamas, Four Healthy Babies.)
What can you do?
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.
What’s in 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 strong 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).
How do I assemble my kit?
Gather the items, prepare a clean surface, wash your hands thoroughly, and assemble the items into a ziplock bag. The idea is that the kits are small enough to pack in large quantities (space is incredibly limited on our ship) and simple enough to not deter women who are accustomed to very little medical services and who often are illiterate.
Please ensure that you don’t pack the soap next to the gauze (so as not to sting baby’s eyes). Place the plastic gloves between them or buy pre-packaged gauze.
[FAQ page is here!]
These clean birth kits are so basic, and yet even in their simplicity they can make the difference between life and death for a woman unable to get to a regional clinic to birth her baby.
My kit cost me a total of $3.10 to make at home when I didn’t buy the supplies in bulk or approximately $2.00 per kit when I’ve made them in bulk.
If you are a visual learner, you can also watch this video that I made last year. (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.
I know from the response to Bloggers for Birth Kits in last year’s Mothers Day Drive (2011) that moms care about moms. (We raised over 2000 kits!!) 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.
So 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?
Photos courtesy of YWAM Ships.