Chapter 5: Preventing infection
Sterilize everything that will go inside a woman’s body, will cut her skin, or will
be used to cut the cord at birth.
Sterilize these items:
• syringes and needles
• scissors or razor blade for cutting the cord
• materials for sewing tears
• clamps or hemostats
• compress cloths
• bulb syringe or mucus trap
• MVA cannula
(see page 420)
• speculums, in some cases
Note: You do not need to sterilize tools that are used only on the
outside of the body. Stethoscopes, measuring tape, and blood pressure
cuffs must be clean but do not need to be sterile.
When you sterilize a tool, the germs on it are killed
and it is safe to use. But if that tool touches anything
(including the bed, a table, or you!) it is no longer sterile.
Germs from whatever it touched are on it, and those
germs can cause an infection when the tool is used.
The next few pages explain 5 different ways to sterilize your tools:
baking, pressure steaming, boiling, steaming, and soaking in chemicals.
Baking and pressure steaming are best — they kill the most germs. If you cannot
use either of those methods, boiling, steaming, or using disinfectant chemicals
is fine. Use the ways that work best for you.
WARNING! If you cannot sterilize your tools, then do not
use them. Unsterilized tools will do more harm than good.
A Book for Midwives (2010)