To promote sustainable change this Mother's Day, we've come together with PropellerProjects, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving conditions for women who give birth at home in developing countries.
Bethany Noble (Director of Product & Buying at Thread Harvest) is one of the thinking heads behind this beautiful project and shares with us about the importance of birthing kits for women & adolescents in Northern Uganda.
Why Birthing Kits?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably never considered that a bar of soap or a pair of gloves could actually save the life of a mother and her new born baby.
For many women around the world, a safe and clean birth is not a reality. When women give birth without clean items like a sterile scalpel or clean gauze, it can lead to death or to the transmission of diseases like HIV, which are so easily prevented.
Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable moments in a human life; both for the mother and the new baby. But seven simple items is all that is needed to save and protect their lives. Seven items so simple they cost about the price of a few blocks of chocolate or cups of coffee.
Partner with Thread Harvest in going halves with us on a Birthing Kit - to find out how, click here
I’m writing this from Northern Uganda where I’m visiting a maternal healthcare project reaching vulnerable adolescent pregnant women.
The region has three doctors and a few basic healthcare facilities to serve over 300,000 people. These people live a subsistence life, surviving off the land in rural villages accessible only by skinny dirt roads. They have suffered through decades of war and lack the opportunities like education and employment that would help them escape the cycle of poverty. As a result, young girls get pregnant at a rapid rate. Over half the Ugandan population is under 15, and many girls have had multiple children by the time they reach their 20s.
I came to see first-hand the work of the first Maternal and Child Healthcare Clinic in the region, run by the organisation Christian Counselling Fellowship (CCF) who have been working in the area for over 10 years. The clinic is purpose-built for mothers give birth in a safe and loving environment. The medical fees are tiered depending on the economic status of the patient. This is the first time that vulnerable mothers, especially teenage mothers, have access to professional care at an affordable rate. It’s a game changer for maternal health.
Alongside the clinic, CCF also runs medical outreaches into rural communities, working alongside poorly facilitated government medical centres. This is where the birthing kits come in.
When the medical team conduct weekly outreaches, they will give birthing kits to expectant mothers. With the kit, these mothers can have an assisted birth at a government health clinic. But without them, the clinic will turn them away. These clinics are so poorly facilitated that they don’t even have clean gloves or plastic sheets to lie on. So a mother must bring her own equipment when she gives birth.
What’s in the Kit?
The kit contains seven items; soap, gloves, a plastic sheet to lie on, clean gauze, a scalpel to cut the umbilical cord, string to tie the umbilical cord and a little wrap for the baby to protect against hyperthermia.
“These birthing kits are very important,” Lucy, a midwife at the clinic tells me. “Government clinics are lacking in basic things like gloves and plastic sheets. So we give mothers the birthing kits in the outreach programs because with them they will be able to have a clean, safe and attended birth in the clinic.”
Lucy explains that although the birthing kits cost the equivalent of $7, it is nearly impossible for these mothers to be able to buy them. A humbling thought when you considered how frivolously we would spend $7 on our morning latte and bliss ball.
Alongside the outreaches, the team provides education around maternal health and family planning. Because adolescent pregnancy rates are high they want to reduce the amount of young girls getting pregnant and instead see more girls complete secondary school, go on to become business owners, teachers or nurses, marry later, have children later (and fewer) and escape the cycle of poverty.
So as each kit is handed out, the team will also reach out a hand of support and hope for the young mother and her baby.
Too many young girls suffer in childbirth and without the support of their communities. We hope that through the work of CCF and with the gift of a birthing kit, the young women of Northern Uganda will receive the love and support they need as they give birth to the next generation. A generation who will value education and believe in an equal future for all.
These kits can change everything.
When I found out about the need for birthing kits I thought it was such a simple solution! I can easily support another woman to have a clean and safe birth. It’s the least I can do considering the only difference between the way I’ll one day give birth, and the way they do is simple postcode lottery.
What Can You Do?
Every mother deserves access to a clean and safe childbirth. The good news is that you don't need to wait to contribute. By purchasing a Birthing Kit in partnership with us you can create real change in a young mother's life.
We look forward to working together to change the lives of these women. If you want to continue to create more change in the area of Women Empowerment, check out our range of brands who support this.