Coconut oil, Dynamo, a bucket and basin, Haribo sweets, an iPad – these are just a few of the items women have packed in their maternity bags as they head to hospital ahead of giving birth.
Birthing essentials can look vastly different for different women. While some women will pack fresh underwear, a book, baby clothes and blankets, others pack tools to help with the labour.
In an eye-opening project to support their Deliver Life campaign, charity WaterAid have released a series of stunning images detailing what women all over the world pack to go to the hospital.
Agnes Noti, 22, Tanzania
Expecting her third child, she has packed baby clothes, blanket, a basin, a flask and tea.
(Photos by WaterAid/Ana Kari)
Hazel, 27, Zambia
With no safe water at the clinic where she will be giving birth, Hazel has packed a basin to wash with. She has also packed cotton wool, a sarong, a roll of black plastic, a baby suit and a blanket.
"I have heard elderly women telling different do and don’ts for a pregnant woman like me," she says. "One of the things I was told is not to sleep too much during daytime. I was told if I do, the baby would also sleep at the time of delivery. I am not supposed to stand in the doorway because the baby will do the same while being delivered and will delay."
(Photos by WaterAid/Chileseh Chanda)
Katy, 31, Australia
Katy, from Melbourne has packed a range of snacks, swaddles and baby clothes. Her bag also includes massage oils, mittens, night dresses, maternity underwear, maternity pads, nurses pads and hats.
“Even carrying the maternity bag is too heavy for me, I couldn’t imagine how I would cope if I had to carry 25 litres of water over a distance. Physically I don’t know if I would be able to do it even before I was pregnant.”
(Photos by WaterAid/James Grant)
Ellen, 23, Malawi
Not many people pack razor blades to go to the hospital, but for Ellen, it's what the midwife will use the cut the umbilical chord. She also packed a torch, black plastic sheet, sarongs, string (to tie the umbilical chord) and a 200 Malawian Kwacha note.
(Photos by WaterAid/Jenny Lewis)
Deanna’s bag is full of items to help her get through the pain of contractions. She has packed a music player, coconut and lavender oil, arnica gel, snacks, a nursing bra and pads, a nursing pillow, clothes, a swaddle blanket, a onesie and a knitted hat.
(Photos by WaterAid/Deanna Neiers)
Claudine, 26, Madagascar
"My family told me about the taboos around pregnancy and I’ve tried to follow them. For me, the main one is not putting a scarf around my neck during my pregnancy because if I do my baby could be born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck," says Claudine. She packed new clothes, cotton wool, alcohol for cleaning, nappies, a thermos, a bucket and sanitary pads.
(Photos by WaterAid/Ernest Randriarimalala)
Joanna, 34, UK
The most important item in Joanna’s bag is the blanket her mum gave her to bring the new baby home in – the very same blanket her mother used to bring her home. She also packed nappies, baby clothes, a towel, clean clothes, toiletries, maternity pads, an iPad, water, medical notes and a TENS machine to help with pain.
"I have packed a water bottle, my sister suggested to bring something to make it (water) easier to drink (during labour). I will bring it empty and I assuming the hospital will have somewhere I can fill it."
(Photos by WaterAid/Anna Kari)
WaterAid works to ensure healthcare facilities have access to clean water, functioning toilets and clean hygiene practice. Visit wateraid.org/au for more information.
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