Take a look as we unzip hospital bags belonging to mums-to-be around the world

You’re expecting a bub. The nursery is ready, baby capsule installed and the pram is waiting for that first trip outside. But the other important thing to have ready before baby’s arrival is your hospital bag. Teeny-tiny unisex white onesies, knot hats, bunny rugs and and ribbed singlets filled my baby bag before my daughter arrived, each item delicately hand-washed. But what if you lived elsewhere in the world? How would your bag be different? Take a peek.

You due date draws near, so what do you put in your maternity bag? That’s the question mums from all corners of the globe were asked. And, while there are many similarities with what mums will take with them as they prepare for birth, the photos reveal the stark difference it makes knowing you’ll have to give birth without clean water.

Every minute a newborn baby dies from infection caused by a lack of safe water and an unclean environment, according to Water Aid.  So the photos were captured as part of its Deliver Life appeal  – which is trying to raise enough money to deliver safe water to 130,000 mums worldwide. The project is on track to raise more than 5 million pounds ($10,000,000) through donations.


baby bag ethiopia

Along with fresh underwear, a loose dress and a cotton throw, Se’ada’s maternity bag contains fabric she can use as a nappy and a towel she can hold her new baby in. It’s her first baby and she admits she’s a little scared.

“At home, we share the tap and toilet with our landlords. The toilet looks like it could collapse any minute,” she says. “But I managed somehow.”


baby bag zambia

Without safe water, midwives struggle to wash their hands between deliveries and battle to keep wards, medical instruments and bedding clean.

With no safe water at the clinic where she’ll be giving birth in Monze district, mum-to-be Hazel has packed a basin to wash with. She’s also brought black plastic to lay on during her delivery, a barrier between her and unclean sheets.

“We have a borehole at the clinic but there’s no running water in the maternity ward,” Hazel says.

United States

baby bag usa

Deanna is hoping to give birth naturally, so her maternity bag is full of items to help her deal with the pain – including a music player, coconut and lavender oils and Arnica Gel.

“You want the best for your baby. It’s devastating to think about dangers such as contaminated water and unhygienic facilities,” she says. “I am very fortunate to live within walking distance of a hospital. Being pregnant certainly heightens your awareness of how lucky we are to have access to great birthing facilities and clean water.”


baby bag tanzania

Zaituni arrived at Kiomboi hospital on a motorcycle her husband rented especially. She was carrying a basin, a bucket and some clothes for herself to wear.

“The baby has no clothes. We are just wrapping her with cloths. When they are dirty, my sister washes them. The water is not safe. It looks milky,” says Zaituni.

After a complicated delivery, Zaituni developed sepsis, a potentially deadly infection that can be caused by unclean water. Antibiotics and a drug infusion helped her recover.

United Kingdom

In the UK, Joanna (top) says her maternity bag is like a welcome gift, giving her baby the best start.

“The most important thing in the bag is the blanket. It’s the same one my mum brought me home in,” Joanna says. “My sister suggested bringing something to make it easier to drink water during the labour, so I have packed a water bottle. I will bring it empty — I’m assuming the hospital will have somewhere I can fill it.”

(via Water Aid, all images via Water Aid)

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Send this to a friend