Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Why This Mother's Day, I'm Asking For the Gift of Clean Birth for Moms in Laos

Pea & I in 1999

Although parenting is always at the forefront of my thoughts, there are two days a year that I truly reflect on that pivotal day, nearly 17 years ago when I gave birth to my daughter: her birthday and Mother's Day.

I don't often write about personal details on this blog, and I have to admit that I feel nervous about doing so now. But we all have our stories, and reflecting on mine has led to me to recognize how precious a gift motherhood is, and the importance of supporting those who could needlessly have that gift taken from them.

I was 18 years old when I became pregnant with Pea, at a point in my life over the course of a couple of years when I was making some rather self destructive choices. I had left a perfectly loving home at 16 to move in with my uncle and be "closer to my friends" over 1000 miles away from my parents. I stopped attending classes, resulting in expulsion and was spending a fair bit of time doing things I'm not proud of today. When I became pregnant with Pea, I had no high school degree, was working for below minimum wage and in a volatile relationship. You can imagine the degree of stress and worry I felt every moment of each day. 

I was incredibly lucky in the support we received from both mine and his parents, but we still were rarely sure we'd have enough food at the end of each day. In fact, I was incredibly adept at worrying, and worried about every aspect of mine and my unborn baby's life - from our health to finances to a rather terrifying future. There was one area though that never even crossed my mind to worry about, and that was the care we would receive at the hospital while giving birth. As Canadian citizens, I knew without even having to think about it that we would be provided with a health team and a sterile hospital room with access to anything we'd need should any complications arise. Even when considering a doula (midwife), I knew she would be expertly trained and that should complications arise, we could be quickly whisked off to the hospital. With these safety nets provided for us, my baby girl, the light that continues to brighten my life each and every day, was born safely.

Four generations

We in the West are so fortunate to have access to health care. But what about those mothers in the developing world? Can they be assured a safe, clean birth? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, approximately 1 million women and infants will die every year after birth simply due to infection. For every woman who dies, 30 more will suffer debilitating illness or permanent disability due to infection. Such needless suffering.

A mother and her three lovely children in Laos
Photo Credit: © Kristyn Zalota

This is why for Mother's Day, this year and here on out, I'm asking for the gift of clean birth for moms in Laos. The gift of a healthy new beginning for other moms and their infants. These deaths can be prevented with a simple yet life saving kit that for $5 can save two lives, a mother and her infant. 

“CleanBirth.org works to prevent the needless deaths of mothers and babies in Laos, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. In the villages where we work, women often give birth alone in the forest. To make birth safer, together with our Lao non-profit partner, we provide life-saving Clean Birth Kits and train local nurses in the distribution of the kits and the WHO’s Essentials of Newborn Care.”

Clean Birth kit provided by CleanBirth.org

This fantastic organization provides training to local nurses in the Salavan Province. Nurses are trained in the use and distribution of Clean Birth Kits, which are life-saving birth supplies proven to prevent infection. The nurses then educate mothers about birth kits and safe birth. Through an alliance with Yale University School of Nursing, they also train the nurses in the WHO's Essentials of Newborn Care.

Beautiful hand stamped bag containing a donation card from CleanBirth.org

What better time to think of the many other mothers, all with their own stories and struggles, who deserve the precious gift of motherhood.

I'll be honoring my mother this Mother's Day (who lets face it, had plenty to worry about for years with me as a daughter!) with a donation card from CleanBirth and I've talked to Pea about how great of an honor it would be to receive the same, knowing this simple gift can have such a lasting impact. 

Consider honoring your mother or grandmother this Mother's Day with a beautiful CleanBirth.org hand-stamped bag containing a donation card, an e-card or a printable card. When you do, you'll provide moms in Laos with Clean Birth Kits and education. They'll have what they need to protect themselves and their babies from life-threatening infections.

You can read more about this wonderful organization at CleanBirth.org. You can purchase their lovely mother's day cards and sachets at their Etsy store.

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!


  1. What a wonderful idea. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing it. I too, was a very young mother (17) and not yet done with high school. My son was born with severe medical problems and both of would have died in childbirth with out good care. I will share this idea with other.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. What a blessing to have had the necessary care to ensure your sons well being!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! You're so right - in the West, even those of us who are quite adept at worrying don't have to worry about what is most important - our safety and that of our babies. Thanks for this reminder!

    1. Sometimes I am just awed at how fortunate we are!

  3. I love finding out more about my blogging friends' lives - thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

    My mum had me when she was 18 and I love that she is so close to me in age now. I (selfishly!) hope my daughter doesn't wait until her 30's to have children, so I can be a youngish grandmother too! Thank you, too, for sharing the work of CleanBirth, it sounds like a fantastic charity.

    Have a wonderful Mothers' Day and Happy Birthday to Pea!

    1. Thank you Lucinda, I'm still cringing at what feels like over sharing :)
      Being a young mom has definitely had its benefits - Pea and I are incredibly close and I think that's in part because I had her so young - though I keep reminding her she should wait until she's in her 30s (out of sheer paranoia!).
      I just love how it takes so little to create such an important change - it's wonderful all that Clean Birth has and continues to do.

  4. What a lovely idea. We've already had our mother's day here in the UK but I shall definitely save this idea for next year. I hope your lovely daughter and her equally lovely mum have a terrific and special mother's day being together.xx

    1. Thank you Claire, we will have a wonderful time together to be sure!

  5. What a wonderful idea, I love it!


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