Maternity Bags From All Over The World

28/01/2016 4:01 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
WaterAid/Anna Kari

It's safe to say the typical Australian mum about to give birth wouldn't necessarily pack a razor in her maternity bag -- and if she did, it almost certainly wouldn't be to sever her newborn's umbilical cord.

But for 23-year-old Ellen, who lives in Malawi, it's an essential, and it is indeed what her midwife will use to make the cut.

In an eye-opening project, charity WaterAid has released a series of images (which can be viewed in the slideshow below) detailing the items women pack in their hospital bags from all over the world.

Of course, while some items such as baby clothes are universal, other items -- Ellen's razor blade included -- differ greatly depending on the country in which the women is living, and whether or not the hospital will have clean water, or decent sanitation and hygienic conditions.

For 27-year-old Hazel from Zambia, along with baby clothes and a blanket, she packed a polythene roll to put on the delivery bed. As there is not enough water (or time) to clean the bed between deliveries, the roll is important in order to maintain personal hygiene.

"We have a borehole at the clinic but there is no running water in the maternity ward," Hazel said.

“I have heard elderly women telling different do and don’ts for a pregnant woman like me. 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. The other thing I was told is not to put a scarf or necklace around my neck during pregnancy because the baby’s umbilical cord will wrap around the neck. It’s the same with a wrap (Chitenge) around my waist.”

Hospital bag priorities were different for Deanna of New York City, who packed a music player and lavender and coconut oil among her things.

"I feel so happy nurturing this life inside of me, it truly is a miracle," Deanna said.

"I also am very fortunate to live within walking distance of one of the best hospitals in New York City. Being pregnant certainly heightens your awareness of how fortunate we are to have access to great birthing facilities and clean water. You want the best for your baby and it’s devastating to think about dangers such as contaminated water and unhygienic facilities. I imagine a world where all women have a safe, clean place to birth their babies.”

Similarly, Australian mum Katy -- who included massage oils, along with lollies and toiletries in her hospital bag -- found it difficult to comprehend the situation of mothers in similar situations to Ellen and Hazel.

"I feel it is unbelievable that women are in that position [heavily pregnant women collecting dirty water themselves], dealing with the everyday stresses of pregnancy and the prospect of childbirth, as well as the additional burden of collecting water.

“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.”

Find out more about each woman's story in the slideshow below. All images and captions courtesy of WaterAid.

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