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 2017, I am filtering birth kits to a location in Uganda. Please email me for up-to-date specifics as this is subject to change at any given time depending on current needs. 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 do so 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.
Anna13 August 2012 at 10:41 pm
Thank you Adriel for this project! I have had such a positive response in the weeks/months following our assembly and am already looking at ways to do things more efficiently next year and get other people involved with the monetary side of it! I can’t wait. Thanks too, for your blog. I have never followed a blog before, but in watching for the update on the birth kits have been following yours. You words (both new and old posts) have been encouraging. Thanks for being human and showing that it’s only by God’s grace that we are allowed this awesome privilege of motherhood. It’s been a long summer of chasing a toddler while dealing with morning sickness and losing my sense of having it “together.” Thanks for the encouragement!
Adriel Booker14 August 2012 at 10:16 pm
That’s so great Anna! You guys made a huge effort in a very short amount of time. Maybe next year I can just delegate the whole thing to you. ha! 😉 But seriously I’m just so grateful. I’m so glad that you’ve seen so many get on board with it.
I’m so glad you’ve found some encouragement here, too. That’s awesome. Really. 🙂 It’s not easy being pregnant… and really not easy being pregnant with a toddler! Much grace to you, dear one!!! Before you know it those two will be best little buddies. Having two is face-paced, but so much fun!! Totally worth it. 🙂
Adriel Booker recently posted..grace for moms – you and i both need it.
Bloggers for Birth Kits: Reducing maternal mortality in developing nations15 August 2012 at 11:16 pm
[…] [FAQ page is here!] […]
Women empowering women | Bloggers for Birth Kits 2012 report17 August 2012 at 1:35 pm
[…] P.S. If you’re still considering how you might get involved, you can see all of the details about Bloggers for Birth Kits here, as well as check out this compilation of Bloggers for Birth Kits FAQs. […]
Hannah White14 February 2013 at 6:07 am
I am part of a new mom’s group in my area (West Virginia, USA). I just found this info and was wondering if you are still needing birth kits. I think it would be a great thing for our group to do.
Adriel19 July 2013 at 1:05 am
Hannah! I was just checking over this page and noticed that I never responded to your comment! (Or maybe I did by email??)
In short – yes, we can still receive kits. Is this something you’re still interested in doing?
Please forgive me for not answering this comment sooner. xx
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Lisa29 August 2013 at 4:56 am
Here is a link to a store where the plastic sheet can be purchased in 3 foot widths and then just cut to 3 foot length. I don’t know if they ship outside of the USA. Also, they did not carry this product in my local stores so plan ahead and order it online.
Adriel13 February 2014 at 9:46 am
thanks for the great tip, lisa!!
Adriel recently posted..What’s the Big Deal About ‘Breastaurants’ Like Hooters?
Jerri Scott11 January 2014 at 1:46 am
I was very deeply impressed last year when I read this article. It is now January 2014. Is it still possible to mail these kits to you? I am assuming that you are still receiving kits year round.
Thank you for the story and the opportunity to serve.
Adriel13 February 2014 at 9:48 am
hi jerri! yes, i can still receive kits. 🙂 let me know before you prepare to mail them though. depending on how many you make i will have you send them to one of our other centers. we have a huge stock now at our townsville center!! my email is themommyhoodmemos at gmail dot com
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Amber Rees17 March 2014 at 9:28 am
I sent an email to you prior- I have planned an activity to put these kits together with my church group in April- please let me know if you are still accepting these kits.
Can you please let me know within the week-otherwise we will find a new project.
Adriel21 March 2014 at 5:36 pm
Hi Amber. I know you already got my email, but I’mm replying here too – just in case others read and have the same question. 🙂
Yes, you can still send birth kits. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how many you plan on making. I will then let you know where to send them. We currently have enough birth kits at our Australia/PNG location so I’ll be redirecting you to one of our other medical ships, also serving the Pacific Island region.
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Jerri Scott22 March 2014 at 2:31 am
I am so excited about making the birth kits on April 8th.
I said I would email you as we got closer to the date. I plan on shipping 57 kits after our activity on April 9th. I know that you were going to send me the address as to where I need to ship the package.
Thank you for your great service and opportunity that you have afforded me and our church group.
Adriel26 March 2014 at 6:38 am
Great Jerri! I’ve got some specific time set aside to be working on a whole bunch of birth kit stuff from tomorrow until Friday this week, so I will definitely email you the address before the weekend!
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not forgotten | Red Cat Inn23 April 2014 at 6:26 am
[…] to help and empower other women), and see where you fit into the bigger picture too. Will you make a birth kit? Will you advocate? Will you give? Let’s make this Mother’s Day special for the […]
Amanda Cooper27 August 2014 at 10:41 pm
I’m an Australian living and working in Canada for one year, who would like to pack birthing kits with my Girl Guides group as an international project. I’ve successfully done this in Australia through the Australian Birthing Kit Foundation. I loved that my search for similar organisations in Canada lead me to you, working with YWAM in Australia. I look forward to working towards completed kits. I’ll will be in touch to vpget details of where we can send our kits in California.
Kindest regards. Amanda
Adriel14 September 2014 at 8:07 pm
Thanks Amanda – fabulous. We are no longer receiving kits in California (our 2014 Mother’s Day Drive is long over!) but I am still receiving kits for another location. Please email me at the email provided above and I’ll let you know where we’re currently sending them!
Thanks again for your heart to get involved, Amanda.
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Kathy4 December 2014 at 6:02 am
Our Presbyterian Women are always looking for ways to minister to the less fortunate and I think this would be a great project for us also during Mother’s Day of 2015. Are you still accepting kits? I am printing out the form and information to present at a future meeting.
Adriel Booker21 June 2015 at 2:59 pm
Hi Kathy. Just checking to make sure you got my email?
Renae7 July 2016 at 9:25 pm
We are always looking for projects that we can do within our women’s group at church. Are you still accepting birthing kits as I feel this would be a wonderful service project for us.
Adriel Booker8 July 2016 at 11:03 am
We are Renae! Everything you need to know should be here on the website, but please email theloveamamacollective (at) gmail (dot) com if you still have questions. Thanks for wanting to get involved! x
autumn28 December 2016 at 5:45 am
Do you know of an Amazon Smile account for this >? I use amazon so much that I know my donations via amazon smile would be a great amount. Please let me know . I know that they are not hard to get if there isn’t one already installed. Thank you
Adriel Booker2 January 2017 at 2:54 pm
Hi Autumn. Thanks so much for thinking of that. We don’t have one set up yet but we’ll work on that in the NY and let you know when it’s set up. Thank you for the idea! 🙂
Sara7 June 2019 at 8:01 am
I would like to do this with some young women but I can’t get your email link to open for me.
Nova Pleman11 January 2021 at 2:38 pm
Hello! Are you still accepting birth kits during the pandemic?
Adriel Booker9 March 2021 at 12:57 pm
No, we are not. Sorry!