For most expecting mothers in the Western world, a hospital bag is something that makes the birthing process marginally more comfortable. You’ve just brought a new being into the world; you deserve to wear your own sweatpants.
But in some parts of the world, hospitals are so bare-bones that women in labor must tote everything with them, from rubber gloves to water pans to gauze.
To draw attention to the difficulty of giving birth in regions where water is scarce, the organization WaterAid recently dispatched photographers to ask expecting and brand-new moms in various countries to open up their hospital bags. Here are their photos, as well as lightly edited interviews with the moms conducted by WaterAid.
Cathelijne Geuze (U.K.)
“I am bringing mainly clothes for myself and the baby, and some snacks, also an e-reader and an iPod, but I don't know if I will have time to use it. And a water bottle! My first labor was very long and I did not want to eat, but the water bottle for keeping hydrated was very useful. I bought lots of snacks, because the first time I remember getting a very boring breakfast of white bread and cornflakes after giving birth.
The most special thing in the bag is the hand knitted blanket my aunt made, my mother bought the yarn and my aunt knitted it. It was the first thing I found to pack.”