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  • Photo from WaterAid

    Just like packing a bag for a trip, preparing all the essentials you’ll need to bring with you to the hospital for delivery day is crucial. You must have everything you need to make your stay in the hospital run as smoothly and as comfortably as possible for you and your newborn. 

    These maternity hospital bags can differ from woman to woman, but a new series of images show just how different these can be for pregnant moms all around the world. 

    Heartbreakingly, not all pregnant women have access to safe and sanitary medical facilities; some don’t even have available clean water for them. WaterAid, an international nonprofit organization aims to provide access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. 

    To bring awareness, they have released a series of photos that depict what women from all over the world (the U.S., Australia, Tanzania and Madagascar among others) bring to the hospital when they’re about to give birth. 

    “It was a way of connecting with people all over the world,” said Sarina Prabasi, CEO of WaterAid America. “Mothers want to have the best conditions possible for themselves and their newborn babies.”

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    There are universal similarities like maternity and baby clothes but there are also stark differences. Some women brought massage oils, gadgets and books. Others had to bring a basin for collecting water in, plastic sheets to cover the hospital beds and a blade to cut the umbilical cord. 

    “There were remarkable similarities and there were remarkable differences,” Prabasi said. “I think it had a visual impact different than if we had written it in words.”

    One of the women who submitted a photo remarked how she would be admitted to one of the best hospitals in NewYork. Other moms commented on the lack of clean water available. 

    “Sometimes, these things feel like they're very far away,” Prabasi said. “It's a way to bring it closer to our lived experience.”

    See what the women brought with them below:

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Joanne from the U.K.

    Contents include: clothes for her, maternity pads, toiletries, snacks, water bottle, medical notes, diapers, clothes for baby, an iPad, a blanket

    “The most important thing in the bag is the blanket my mum gave me to bring the baby home in, the same one my mother brought me home in.”

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Hazel from Zambia

    Contents include: a sarong, cotton wool, napkins, water dish, sheet to put over the delivery bed, a baby blanket, baby clothes

    “We have a borehole at the clinic, but there is no running water in the maternity ward.”  

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Katy from Australia

    Contents include:  clothes for her, maternity underwear, maternity pads, nursing pads, toiletries, snacks, diapers, clothes for baby, swaddles, massage oils

    “Even carrying the maternity bag is too heavy for me, I couldn’t imagine how I would cope if I had to carry 25litres of water over a distance. Physically I don’t know if I would be able to do it even before I was pregnant.”

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    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Takako from Japan

    Contents include: her insurance card and medical papers, health-record, book, official documents, a crop-top bra for breastfeeding, maternity shorts, toiletries and clothes for baby

    “When I gave birth for my first child, I had to take diaper, baby wipes, maternity shorts and my pyjamas, but this time at a different hospital those items are all included in the hospitalisation fee. It would be helpful since I do not have to worry about washing my pyjamas.”

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Razafindrabary from Madagascar

    Contents include: clothes for baby, cotton wool, alcohol for cleaning, diapers, a bucket for collecting water and sanitary pads

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Deanna from New York

    Contents include: music player, coconut oil for massage, lavender oil, snacks, nursing bra and pads, nursing pillow, clothes for her return home, swaddle blanket for baby, clothes for the baby

    “I feel so happy nurturing this life inside of me, it truly is a miracle. 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.”

     Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Ellen from Malawi

    Contents include: a flashlight because there is no electricity, a plastic sheet to cover the delivery bed, a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord, string to tie the umbilical cord, cash to buy food, three sarongs for mom and baby 

    She gave birth in Simulemba Health Centre which has no clean running water, no sterilization equipment and four toilets for 400 people, according to WaterAid.

    Photo from WaterAid

    Belonging to: Agnes from Tanzania

    Contents include: clothes for the baby, a blanket for the baby, socks, a basin, a glask and tea

    January 26, 2016. "In pictures: Inside the maternity bags of expectant mothers" (bbc.com)
    February 8, 2016. "Photos reveal what's in birth bags of women around the world". (cnn.com)  

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