Hesperian Health Guides

What to bring to a birth

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HealthWiki > A Book for Midwives > Chapter 9: Getting ready for labor and birth > What to bring to a birth

Bring a helper

When you go to a labor, it is best to bring a helper. If there is an emergency, one person can take care of the baby while the other person helps the mother. Or one person can go for help while the other stays to take care of the problem.

If you do not have a helper, teach someone at the birth (the mother’s husband, sister, mother-in-law, or friend) how to help during the birth.

Bring supplies

When you think a mother’s labor is near, be sure you have all the supplies and tools you will need for the birth. The mother will probably have some of these supplies at her home. A midwife should bring the rest. It is a good idea for every midwife to assemble a kit with these tools and supplies.

The most important supplies to have at a birth

If you can only get a few supplies, get these:
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A way to get to a hospital in an emergency
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Clean water for drinking or washing Soap and, if possible,some alcohol and a brush for cleaning hands and scrubbing fingernails Sterilized string to tie the cord Sterilized razor blades or scissors to cut the cord
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Clean gloves (or very clean plastic bags) to wear whenever you touch the mother's genitals, the baby, or any blood or stool Mucus trap or suction bulb to suction the baby after the birth Injections of oxytocin or tablets of misoprostol to stop heavy bleedingafter the birth

Other things to make a birth easier
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A clean place in which to give birth Many very clean cloths or rags for the mother in labor and for the baby after the birth Heat to boil water
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Bowls for washing and for the placenta Food for the mother and the helpers Loving people to help in labor

Other supplies that are very useful for the midwife to carry in her kit
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Very clean apron and head cloth The mother's pregnancy record, a pen, and paper A good birth manual
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Watch with a second hand or timer
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Stethoscope Blood pressure cuff Packets of sterile gauze Sterile syringe, needles, and emergency medicines
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Supplies for making rehydration drink or premixed packets you can make yourself 2 sterilized clamps (hemostats) to clamp the cord or clamp bleeding veins if a woman tears Sterilized blunt-tipped scissors to cut the cord before the baby is completely born (only in an emergency!)
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Plant medicines that you know how to use Thermometer Fetoscope Sterile needle and gut thread for sewing tears
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HIV medicines for mother and baby if mother has HIV Erythromycin or tetracycline ointment (or silver nitrate) for the baby's eyes Measuring tape to measure the baby Small scale to weigh the baby
Remember: All of these supplies are helpful, but if you do not have them, you can still be an excellent midwife. The most important things to bring to a birth are your wisdom, experience, and love.

Sterilize your tools and wash up

When you arrive at the birth, make sure all of your tools are sterilized. All of the tools that go inside the vagina or cut the skin must be sterile. This includes gloves, razor or scissors for cutting the cord, and scissors for doing an episiotomy (cutting the birth opening).

Wash your hands often during labor, and be sure your nails are clipped short. Wear clean clothes too. A clean apron will keep blood and fluids off of you.

This page was updated:11 Sep 2019