A Gratitude Journal: Birthing Conditions

A couple of months ago, Shannon introduced the idea of gratitude journal posts here in our village, so here’s a second one, sparked by this insightful photography series by WaterAid, highlighting the differences in what women pack in their maternity bags in the different places WaterAid works.
Mother Waiting

Mother-to-be Chadla in Nicaragua, photo by Jordi Ruiz Cirera/WaterAid

What struck me most as I read through the series is the number of women who include medical/hygiene necessities in their bags for the hospital. I packed an enormous bag to take to have my first child, but now that I think about it, every single item in there was a luxury – slippers to wear for pacing the halls, a bathrobe, a book to read, music to play (I may have even brought a card game?), a journal to write in, our camera, clean clothes for me and John, etc. Even the things that seemed like necessities – snacks, juice boxes, sanitary pads, diapers, my water bottle, an outfit for Arlo to wear home – could have been easily provided or substituted by the hospital in a pinch. Some of these women need to pack clean coverings for the delivery surface, towels, basins, razor blades, string, clean water to drink, and disinfectant.
Mat Bag Contents

Malawian mother-to-be Ellen’s maternity bag contents, photo by Jenny Lewis/WaterAid

 
I’m a little sheepish admitting that I didn’t even use any of the crap in my hospital bag during labour; Arlo was too fast for that. I ate some of the snacks I brought about an hour after he was born, but a nurse would have brought me food. The private birthing room had a beautiful tub where I had a hot bath of clean water before going home that night – and if I’d needed it, they would have had a bed for me to sleep in, with clean bedding and pillows.
 
So I’m feeling very grateful this morning for the provisions made for pregnant/birthing women in the country I was lucky enough to be born in, through no merit of my own. We tend in our culture to put a lot of stress and worry around labour/delivery, especially for first-time mamas, but this bigger-picture reflection helps me to both be thankful for and confident in the situation I face as a birthing woman.
 
If this photo series touches you similarly, here’s where you can learn more about and contribute to WaterAid’s Deliver Life Initiative. There are many similar causes out there as well, such as opportunities to fund a safe birth for a mama-to-be at Kangu.org, or enable a newborn checkup in a developing country through Plan Canada. Some baby registries, like BabyList (which I used and quite liked), allow you to include contributions to these organizations as options for your family and friends. Contributions like these are just one way we can expand our village beyond those in our physical communities, and extend our support to women the world over.
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