From the moment you saw ‘two lines’, you started imagining what the “big day” would be like.  The closer it got to your due date, the more lists you started making. Right?

There were baby essentials (how many onesies does a newborn wear?), house cleaning, nursery organising and hospital bag lists.

When it came to that all-inclusive hospital bag list, you probably added PJ’s (that you never even wore), your make-up kit (that you never even used) and a host of other items that would sadly never even make it out of the bag.

But, what would you have packed if you lived in a different country? Just because you’re all about packing your favourite fab and fluffy robe doesn’t mean that every woman (across the globe) would too. What if you had to pack your own fresh water? Well, in some places water (something we think of as being totally free flowing) isn’t readily available during labour and delivery.

Enter WaterAid UK. Their Deliver Life project tells the stories of mums around the world – as a way to raise funds to bring fresh, safe and clean water to newborns and new mums. As part of the project, the organisation shared photos and information about how women pack for delivery. This includes women from around the world, showcasing the similarities and differences.

Who are these mums?

Katy from Melbourne packed items that the hospital told her to. This includes toiletries, massage oils (for relaxation) and snacks. She said (on the WaterAid website), “I never question how hygienic a place is, because I know everywhere in Australia has hygienic facilities. The Hospital is a very clean and sterile environment.”

“It’s unbelievable that women are dealing with the everyday stresses of pregnancy and the prospect of childbirth, as well as the burden of collecting water.” — Katy. Photo: WaterAid UK
“It’s unbelievable that women are dealing with the everyday stresses of pregnancy and the prospect of childbirth, as well as the burden of collecting water.” — Katy. Photo: WaterAid UK
Photo: WaterAid UK
Photo: WaterAid UK

divider-3Takako from Japan brought clothes for her newborn to wear when they leave the hospital. After delivery the hospital actually provides her with PJ’s and her baby with nappies and new clothes. She said, “Mothers can take a shower at the hospital from the day after delivery. I really feel I’m lucky to give birth in Japan in terms of water and sanitation.”

“Mothers can take a shower at the hospital from the day after the delivery. I really feel I’m lucky to give birth in Japan in terms of water and sanitation.” — Takako. Photo: WaterAid UK
“Mothers can take a shower at the hospital from the day after the delivery. I really feel I’m lucky to give birth in Japan in terms of water and sanitation.” — Takako. Photo: WaterAid UK
Photo: WaterAid UK
The kit that Takako in Japan packed to take to hospital. Photo: WaterAid UK

divider-3Deanna lives and gave birth in the U.S. She brought a music player and oils. This new mum notes, “Being pregnant certainly heightens your awareness of how lucky we are to have access to great birthing facilities and clean water.”

Photo: WaterAid UK
“You want the best for your baby and it’s devastating to think about dangers such as contaminated water and unhygienic facilities.” — Deanna | Photo: WaterAid UK
Photo: WaterAid UK
Photo: WaterAid UK

divider-3Now, compare that to Kemisa from Kampala. She packed her own sheets, gloves, cotton wool and disinfectant. She also brought along a bucket and basin. Not for cleaning, but to use as a toilet. She noted, “The toilet is outside the ward. It’s clean, but it’s not a toilet with water. I always use the bucket.”

“The toilet is outside the ward. It’s clean, but it’s not a toilet with water. I always use the bucket.” — Kemisa
“The toilet is outside the ward. It’s clean, but it’s not a toilet with water. I always use the bucket.” — Kemisa.  Photo: WaterAid UK
Kemisa’s hospital bag included baby's clothes, surgical gloves, washing powder, disinfectant, a flask and cup, a wrap, nappies and bedding. Photo: WaterAid UK
Kemisa’s hospital bag included baby’s clothes, surgical gloves, washing powder, disinfectant, a flask and cup, a wrap, nappies and bedding. Photo: WaterAid UK

divider-3Then there’s Zaituni from Kiomboi. She brought some extra clothes, a bucket and a basin to the hospital. Her experience as a new mum probably doesn’t sound at all familiar, “The baby has no clothes. We are just wrapping her with cloths. When they are dirty my sister washes them. The water is not safe. It looks milky.”

“The baby has no clothes. We are just wrapping her with cloths. When they are dirty my sister washes them. The water is not safe. It looks milky.” — Zaituni
“The baby has no clothes. We are just wrapping her with cloths. When they are dirty my sister washes them. The water is not safe. It looks milky.” — Zaituni.  Photo: WaterAid UK
Zaituni arrived at Kiomboi hospital on a motorbike her husband hired for the journey. She was carrying a basin, a bucket and some clothes.
Zaituni arrived at Kiomboi hospital on a motorbike her husband hired for the journey. She was carrying a basin, a bucket and some clothes.  Photo:  WaterAid UK

divider-3What did you pack (or are planning to pack) in your hospital bag? If you don’t have to worry about bringing your own clean water (or a bathroom bucket), count yourself as lucky.

Visit the WaterAid UK website for more information on helping mums around the world (and their newborns) find access to fresh, clean water.

Author

Belinda Jennings is a fun-loving mum who’s a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. When she’s not tap, tap, tapping at the keyboard Belinda can be found happily wrangling two small boys and loving on her superstar husband. Good conversation, close friends and fine chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. She believes life’s too short for bad coffee, folding fitted sheets and not wearing your favourite shoes.

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