A big part of our medical outreaches involves distributing mama kits to pregnant women. For many of us (including me) this was a very foreign concept before arriving in Uganda. We take it for granted that when we go to give birth, we arrive at our local hospital often with just our bag, a change of clothes, perhaps a cute blanket and some luxuries to comfort ourselves following the birth. However women in Uganda aren’t able to access such health services and must bring all that they will require to give birth. If they don't, they risk being turned away from the hospital or clinic or denied care. While some clinics do offer the women the option to purchase a kit from them, these are often at a very high cost and supplied are often limited.
A Mama kit costs between 3-5 USD depending on where it is purchased. Whilst this doesn’t sound expensive in Western terms. The average monthly salary in Uganda is less than 100 USD a month, with a huge percentage of the population on far less and thus unable to access housing, food and education.
Mama kits include:
- a plastic sheet
- razor blades
- cotton wool
- gauze pad
- surgical gloves
- exam gloves
For many women, the provision of a birth kit means they have the money to afford a scan which helps to ensure a safe delivery. Ultrasounds are a routine part of pregnancy in the western medical system, they enable midwives and doctors to determine the location of the placenta, growth of the baby and the fetal position. This information helps to optimise birth outcomes for both the mother and baby. Furthermore they are able to recognise and diagnose pregnancy related conditions which may require additional medical care. As a result Mama kits have been shown to decrease the risk of dying antenatally and during childbirth and reduce the instance of infection for women and babies.
These kits also encourage women to give birth at a facility rather than at home. One critical strategy for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality is ensuring that every baby is delivered with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant which generally includes a medical doctor, nurse or midwife. Skilled birth attendants are trained in the mechanisms of labour, how to conduct a safe delivery and when additional help is needed. Mama kits not only supply women with supplies needed for a safe delivery but also provide information to women and stress the importance of seeking medical assistance.
Statistics show that there are approximately 4600 births each day in Uganda, with approximately 95 still births, and 19 neonatal deaths per 1000 live births. Sadly these numbers don’t mirror that of the western culture. Mama kits aim to promote safe births and encourage women to seek the care of a trained birth assistance. Although a small step, these kits can have a profound and even life saving impact on women, babies and the holistic community.
If you would like to help us facilitate safe births you can make a donation here.