Chapter 5: Preventing infection
Always do a 3-minute hand wash
• touch the mother’s vagina
• do a pelvic exam
• deliver the baby
• sew up a tear
• insert an IUD (see Chapter 21)
• do an MVA (see Chapter 23)
• clean up after the birth
• touch any blood or
other body fluids
• urinate or pass stool
Alcohol and glycerine hand cleaner
You can make a simple hand cleaner to use if you do not have water to wash your
hands. When used correctly, this cleaner will kill most of the germs on your hands.
Mix 2 milliliters glycerine with 100 milliliters of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol
60% to 90%.
To clean your hands, rub about 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) of the hand cleaner
into your skin. Be sure to clean between your fingers and under your nails. Keep
rubbing until your hands are dry. Do not rinse your hands or wipe them with a
Throughout this book we talk about how important it is to wash
your hands and wash your tools. But the water you use must be
clean to be of any use. If the water in your community may
carry germs, be sure that water is boiled before using it to
wash your hands or to wash tools before a birth.
Latex and other plastic gloves protect
women from any germs that
may be hiding under your
fingernails or on your skin.
They also protect you from
getting infections. Wear clean gloves
whenever you touch the mother’s
genitals, or any blood or body fluid.
If you are doing invasive procedures,
or if you are touching any tools that
have been sterilized, you must wear
Plastic bag gloves
If you do not have
gloves, use plastic bags
that have been washed
in disinfectant soap instead. Bags
are harder to use than gloves, but
they are better than nothing.
In the rest of this book, we will
only mention gloves. But be sure
to use plastic bags if you do not
A Book for Midwives (2010)