What you take with you to the hospital while giving birth matters.
In some cases, it can save your life, or at least make your experience in the hospital less stressful. You'll never know how handy a water bottle can be until that moment.
But the specifics of what pregnant women bring into the hospital in their maternity bags differs by country. WaterAid, an international program that provides access to safe water and sanitation across the world, recently published some photos of what different mothers bring with them to the hospital, showing there are differences in how cultures handle the occasion.
"There were several key maternity bag items that women from around the world had in common, including blankets to wrap the baby in, clothes for the baby and a water bottle or flask," according to WaterAid. "Yet the project also highlighted the challenges women from developing nations face when giving birth, where shockingly the items packed by new mums are largely dictated by whether they can rely on the hospital having clean water, sanitation and hygienic conditions during their labor
Many of the pregnant women who talked to WaterAid said that this was an eye-opening moment for them because they got to see the difficulties of pregnancy outside their own countries. People in America, for example, said they couldn't imagine giving birth in a place without water or that isn't clean.
It was the same for people in Australia. One mother said she expects all facilities to be hygienic, so seeing some of these pictures really surprised her.
"Everyone wants every newborn baby to get the best possible start in life. Midwives and hospital staff want to be able to do the job that they trained for — to deliver life," Paul Nichols, WaterAid Australia's chief executive, said in a press release. "But this isn't possible without safe water, toilets and good hygiene."
Getting clean water may be the first step in fixing that issue.
"Seeing these photographs, and meeting women in similar situations, I am always struck by the harsh reality they face when giving birth in such risky conditions," Nichols said. "Water and sanitation facilities are needed to help ensure a clean environment and good hygiene, giving hope for mother and baby.