A Knit Octopus and Other Stories: 3 Sweet and Innovative Projects from Around the World to Help Preemies and Mothers-to-be

These projects from around the world both creatively and practically redefine TLC for pregnant women and premature babies!

Denmark: The Octo

It is instinctive for babies to want to grasp something. Preemies, i.e. babies born prematurely, are housed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. More often than not, they have tubes sticking out of them and they grab those tubes.

Thanks to the “Octopus For a Preemie” project[1] which originated in Denmark (The Danish Octo Project[2]), tiny babies can have a knit octopus to grab instead of their tubes.

The “Octo” is a developmental tool, which is knit from high-grade cotton by volunteers, to exact specifications. The specifications are set to prevent accidental choking and strangulation. Octos are donated to neonatal care units in countries where the program is active.

The tentacles of Octo resemble the umbilical cord, and pulling on the tentacles gives preemies a sense of holding the cord. First, the mother sleeps holding the Octo; to infuse it with her scent; it is then given to the baby. The scent and umbilical cord-like feel is supposed to remind the baby of its time in the womb, which brings calm and comfort.

The octopus remains in bed with the baby through its NICU stay where it is constantly monitored and supervised, but constant company is not recommended once the baby goes home.

Nigeria: The Mama Kit

A care project focused on improving maternal and child health in Osun, Nigeria has come up with a “Mama Kit.” This kit, which consists of one-meter piece of cotton cloth (for swaddling the baby), one laundry soap, a pair of gloves, a piece of cotton wool, small gauze, cord ligature, razor blade and a meter of polythene sheet which is used on the delivery table. It also contains methylated spirit and sanitary pads for the mother.[3]

The kit is designed to call the attention of pregnant women to safe childbirth practices at public health centers and discourage at-home deliveries which could be unhygienic and dangerous. It is also aimed at increasing the quality of care indices at health center levels across the state of Osun. In addition, health workers have been sensitized and trained towards the cause.

USA and Latin America: The NovaVeil

The NovaVeil is all about taking protection against mosquito-bites and related serious illnesses to the next level. The project began at the time the Zika virus was spreading throughout Latin America and the Southern US states. There was no protective apparel solution designed specifically for pregnant mothers that was not only elegant, but also protected them from mosquito-borne diseases.[4]

The NovaVeil Zika-Protective line of maternity wear is made using fabric created using Nanotechlology that binds a permethrin-free repellent to the fabric on a molecular level. In addition, it is washable over fifty times, is odour-less, and safe to be worn during pregnancy. Initial reception of this maternity wear line has been good, and in addition to the poorest sections of El Salvador, where it was tried out, efforts are on to continue offering the NovaVeil line at low or no cost to vulnerable populations in Latin America.

Have you come across an innovative maternity care or baby care product you’d like to tell us about? Write to us at info@togetherforher.com!

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