Hospital bags from around the world
7 women share what they've packed for the labour ward.

What items of your hospital bag are most important to you? 

Read more: How to pack a hospital bag

For some of us, having our favourite snacks or an eye mask is something we'd feel lost without. For others, washing powder and a flash light for a hospital with no electricity is more important. 

In a touching photo project by Bright side 7 different women from different culture around the world reveal the contents of their hospital bags. 

Take a look...

Hazel, 27. Hamakando Village in Monze District in Zambia

"I come from Tutu. The water for drinking, we buy from the shop. (Last time the other water came from) the river. There was white water. It was my grandmother who went to the river. 
The water from the river is not safe for drinking. So in the river many people fetch water that suffer. So using that one you can’t trust that water.”

Razafindrabary Claudine, 26, Madagascar 

WaterAid/ Ernest Randriarimalala

"My family told me about the taboos around pregnancy and I’ve tried to follow them. For me, the main one is not putting a scarf around my neck during my pregnancy because if I do my baby could be born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. So I don’t wear a scarf. I don’t even have one at home because I want my baby to be born naturally without anything around his neck."

Deanna Neiers, New York City

WaterAid/ Deanna Neiers

"I feel so happy nurturing this life inside of me, it truly is a miracle. I also am very fortunate to live within walking distance of one of the best hospitals in New York City. Being pregnant certainly heightens your awareness of how fortunate we are to have access to great birthing facilities and clean water. You want the best for your baby and it’s devastating to think about dangers such as contaminated water and unhygienic facilities. I imagine a world where all women have a safe, clean place to birth their babies.”

Ellen Phiri, 23, Simulemba, Malawi

Ellen gave birth in a hospital in Malawi which has no electricity and delivers over 90 babies in a month. Her hospital bag includes a torch light and a black plastic sheet to cover the delivery bed. 

Hazel Shandumba, 27, West of Monze District, Zambia

WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

“We have a borehole at the clinic but there is no running water in the maternity ward. 

“I have heard elderly women telling different do and don’ts for a pregnant woman like me. One of the things I was told is not to sleep too much during daytime. I was told if I do, the baby would also sleep at the time of delivery. I am not supposed to stand in the doorway because the baby will do the same while being delivered and will delay. The other thing I was told is not to put a scarf or necklace around my neck during pregnancy because the baby’s umbilical cord will wrap around the neck. It’s the same with a wrap (Chitenge) around my waist.”

Joanna Laurie, 34, London

WaterAid/ Anna Kari

“I have packed a water bottle, my sister suggested to bring something to make it (water) easier to drink (during labour). I will bring it empty and I assuming the hospital will have somewhere I can fill it. They must have a water fountain. I am taking that for granted, unlike people in Africa. The most important thing in the bag is the blanket my mum gave me to bring the baby home in, the same one my mother brought me home in.” 

Katy Shaw, Melbourne, Australia

WaterAid/ James Grant

“I feel it is unbelievable that women are in that position (heavily pregnant women collecting dirty water themselves in the countries where WaterAid works), dealing with the everyday stresses of pregnancy and the prospect of childbirth, as well as the additional burden of collecting water.

“Even carrying the maternity bag is too heavy for me, I couldn’t imagine how I would cope if I had to carry 25 litres of water over a distance. Physically I don’t know if I would be able to do it even before I was pregnant.”

What do you keep in your hospital bag? Send us your comments to

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