Julie Lee, Robyn Beck, Katie Beck Burgess and daughter Matilda Burgess, 7 months, putting together Birthing Kits for the Birthing Kit Foundation.
Julie Lee, Robyn Beck, Katie Beck Burgess and daughter Matilda Burgess, 7 months, putting together Birthing Kits for the Birthing Kit Foundation. Jay Cronan

Researcher helps make birth safer

BIRTH researcher and mother of three, Katie Beck Burgess was so grateful for the quality of birthing services in Australia she has set about improving the lot of women in developing countries.

"There are very high mortality rates of women and babies in childbirth in developing countries," she said.

"About 385,000 women die in childbirth every year - often just simply for the fact of not having access clean, basic care."

Ms Burgess is currently writing a psychology PhD thesis at Southern Cross University on the medicalisation of childbirth and happened across the Birthing Kit Foundation - an international NGO formed by a group of doctors to provide a kit of essential items for a hygienic birth.

Each year they distribute 140,000 kits to women in remote regions of developing countries.

"I found out about this through the research I've been doing and thought it was a really great idea," Ms Burgess said.

"I've just had my third child and I felt that it was wonderful that I had access to such excellent services, equipment and professionals and that this was the least I could do to give back to women who weren't as fortunate as me."

The kits cost about $2 each and are barely larger than a sunglasses case - they contain a plastic sheet, soap, latex gloves, a sterilised scalpel blade, three cords, five gauze squares and can save the life of a baby and mother.

About 60 volunteers, mostly women, spent their Saturday at St Bartholomew's Church hall in Alstonville assembling about 600 kits destined for Tanzania next week.

"It took a couple of months to organise and it spread mostly word-of-mouth - just local women, local groups who have come together to help," Ms Burgess said.

"I'd like to do one every year but anyone can actually do it, they just need to get onto the Birthing Kit Foundation's website.

Donations can be made at www.birthingkitfoundation.org.au.

Add 'K Burgess' to the contact to have your money go to local efforts.

 


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