Babies come into this world regardless of war or natural disasters. They also do not concern themselves with the availability of a skilled health care provider or the environment into which they are born.
For centuries, a clean birth has been recognized as essential to the health and survival of both mothers and children. When babies are delivered in unsanitary conditions and without proper care, an otherwise healthy child can be at risk for getting an infection and possibly even death. According to the World Health Organization, nearly one million babies die from infection each year.
Individuals or small groups can help save the lives of numerous mothers and newborns by providing birthing kits with the following items:
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).
One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mother’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at a pharmacy or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at a hardware store. Women are taught to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine. Be sure they are carefully wrapped in paper and secured in plastic to prevent rust.
Three pieces of string (two for tying the cord, one for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 4 x 6 feet and can be purchased at a hardware or paint store.
One gallon-size ziplock freezer bag — preferably the type without a “zipper” which can pop off when the bags are flattened for packing. The bag is used to pack the contents of the kit and hold the placenta after birth.
Used suitcases to transport the kits with people who are traveling to Honduras and Tanzania.
Additionally, you can send two flannelette receiving blankets, each 1 yard/meter square. You can purchase these already made or purchase fabric and cut it with pinking shears to prevent fraying. One is used to dry and stimulate the baby, and one to swaddle the baby—even in hot climates, babies quickly lose body heat.
If you live near Winston-Salem, you can collect items and drop them off at our office in Cedarhyrst. If you live in other areas, please contact us at Unitywomen2011@gmail.com or call 336-725-6413, and we will tell you whether a similar effort is being made in your area.