I recently got together with a few local moms to assemble 125 birth kits. These kits contain soap, a pair of gloves, 5 squares of sterile gauze, a razor blade, 3 pieces of string 10” long, and a 3 foot square of plastic sheeting. All of this fits inside a sandwich sized bag. I can’t believe that this is all a woman
In America it is really easy to take simple things for granted like clean water and access to soap. We know that hand washing is the first step to prevent the spread of germs but something this simple can be really difficult if you can't afford soap. We also assume that you will have some sort of professional help when it comes time to give birth whether that is an Obstetrician, a midwife, or an EMT. Many women in third world countries have to rely on family members or friends to assist in the birth of their baby. If my friend asked me to help deliver her baby I would think she was crazy!
I do feel lucky to have been born in America even with its problems*. We cannot control where we are born and some women are not as lucky as me. I want to help those women and this was something simple I could do for them. I would love to teach everyone in the world how to use a condom but that would be meaningless if they did not have access to condoms. I think that any woman who is about to give birth should be given the chance to have a clean and safe labor for her and her baby. The contents of this sandwich bag can help with that.
It feels good to know that 125 moms and babies will have a safe entry into this world because of something a small group of moms in Virginia did in a few hours. In typical Charlotte fashion, I dove into this project head first and may not have read the fine print. I hope this post will encourage others to assemble birth kits or donate to this cause. If you are going to assemble kits, here are a few things I learned.
I used sterile gauze but you do not have to I just want everything to be as clean as possible. I also used razor blades that were wrapped in paper in the hopes that they would be cleaner and safer to handle when opening the kit.
You can cut a regular bar of soap into 8 pieces. I wrapped the little pieces is plastic wrap but this step is not necessary.
I used painter's tape on my kitchen table to make a 10" section for cutting string and a 3' section for cutting the plastic sheet.
I did not want to open up the plastic sheet to keep it as clean as possible so i wanted to buy sheeting that was already 3' on at least one side. I was able to find sheeting that was 3' by 50' and 4 mil in thickness. I also used sheeting that was only .31 mil thick and 9' by 400' which was way more cost effective. I honestly cut this plastic down so it was 9' by 3' because it was so thin.
I mailed these to Austrailia and from there they will go to Papua New Guinea by ship. The package was about 27 lbs and shipping cost $140! After the transaction was completed, the helpful USPS employee said next time to pack them in multiple smaller boxes for less expensive shipping. Now you tell me!
I definitely made this project more expensive than it needed to be but now I now know what to do for next time. My husband also did not mind spending the money on such a worthy cause. If you want to assemble kits at home, I hope you will learn my experience. You could also make a donation here or here. I want to thank The Feminist Breeder and Bloggers for Birth Kits for turning me on to this worthy cause. Does anyone know of an organization doing this in America?
*Infant mortality is still an issue in America. We have a lot of issues but that is for a different post.