Hesperian Health Guides
This section tells how to make some materials for teaching about women’s bodies, pregnancy, and birth. These materials can be used when teaching other midwives, pregnant women and their families, or people in the community who want to learn about women’s reproductive health. Most people learn more easily using these types of teaching materials than they would learning only from a book.
- 1 3 basic methods for making teaching materials
- 2 Models of a pelvis, womb, and vagina
- 3 A model of pregnancy: the womb, placenta, cord, and baby
- 4 A model of birth: the birth box and birth pants
3 basic methods for making teaching materials
Copying a pattern
Some of these teaching materials include patterns for making models. To copy a pattern, put a thin sheet of paper over it. If possible, tape it down lightly so it does not move around. Then trace the pattern onto the thin paper. Remove the thin paper and pin or tape it on the cloth or cardboard you are going to cut out.
Making a slide into a poster
Put a large piece of paper or a large cloth on a wall. Then put a slide into a slide projector and shine the picture onto the piece of paper or cloth. Trace the picture exactly. Once you have the outline, color it in.
Making models out of papier maché
Papier maché is a good material for making models of parts of the body. For example, if you want to make a model of a baby’s head, use a balloon or some dry, crumpled newspaper in a plastic bag.
Then make a paste of flour and water. Dip strips of newspaper or other paper in it, and layer the strips over the balloon. Make several layers and let it dry. It dries well in the sun. Paint the outside so it looks like a baby’s head.
Models of a pelvis, womb, and vagina
A paper pelvis
You can make a simple model of the pelvis using a piece of stiff paper or thin cardboard.
- First, make a pattern by tracing the shape below on thin paper.
Fold the piece of stiff paper in half.
Then put this side of the pattern along the fold.a woman’s leg bone would attach hereDarken this area in step 3.Cut out this area in step 3.
- Cut the paper along the edges of the pattern, then unfold the paper. Draw a dark spot on each side to show where the leg bones go. Cut out the holes here.
- Bend the paper around and join the ends together to make a pubic bone in front. Be sure to keep the dark spots on the outside. To keep the front of the pelvis round, put a thin strip of cardboard across the inside of the pubic bone. Gently curl the hip bones (at the top on each side) back.
- Bend the tailbone back.
- Then curl it forward.
- Fold the little tips so that they point inward.
You can use this pelvis with a doll to show how a baby passes through a woman’s pelvis to be born.
A womb and vagina made from cloth
1. To make a non-pregnant womb, cut 2 pieces of cloth this size.
Stretchy material is best. (If you do not have stretchy material, cut the
material a little larger than this picture.)
|2. Put the womb pieces together
and sew along the dotted line.
Leave the top end open.
Leave this end open — right sides are on the inside.
|3. Turn the womb inside out.
|4. Stuff the inside of the womb
(almost to the top) with
Stuff up to here.
|5. Put a plastic straw or tube of
cloth out each side of the top
of the womb, like this:
|6. Stuff more soft material
in the top.
|7. Sew the top closed, and make a
fringe on the ends of the tubes,
|8. Make 2 small cloth balls this shape
to show the ovaries, where the
mother’s eggs are made.
Stuff them with soft material.
|9. If you are using a plastic straw
to show the tubes, sew a strong
string to one ovary.
|10. The finished womb should
look like this:
|Put the string through the straw
and attach it to the other ovary.
If you are using cloth tubes,
sew one ovary to each end.
|1. Cut a piece of material this size and shape:
|2. Sew a little soft wire or
plastic along the flat edge
of the material.
|3. Fold the material together to
make a tube. Sew, leaving a
small opening just big enough
to fit the cervix of the womb into.
|4. Sew a piece of
|5. Turn the tube so the right sides
face out. Make a knot here to
show the clitoris. Make a dot or a
hole to show the urethra (opening
that urine comes out of).
|6. Attach the womb to the vagina
by putting the
bottom of the
womb into the
Using the model
Here are a few ways you can use this model in teaching:
|1. Students can put their fingers into
the vagina and feel the cervix.
|2. You can hold the
womb in front of
your belly so
where the womb is
in the body.
|3. You can show how to stop
a hemorrhage after birth.
Fold the womb over a board
or stick to show how to
press the womb against
the pubic bone.
A model of pregnancy: the womb, placenta, cord, and baby
A womb made from a gourd
|1. Look for a gourd shaped like this:
|2. Make a hole in the bottom
and open the top.
|3. Make a simple doll from cloth.
Make the doll small enough to fit
inside the gourd. Use a small piece
of rope or string for the cord, and
a small pillow for the placenta.
(See another way to make a doll.)
|4. Put the doll inside the
gourd. You can glue the
placenta to the inside wall
of the gourd.
|5. Make a vagina out of a tube of
leather, cardboard, rubber, or
some other material. Make a hole
in the top. Leave one end open
and sew the other end closed.
|6. Put the bottom of the womb into
the hole in the top of the vagina.
Perhaps you can
find some way
to prop it up.
Leave this end open.
Sew this end closed.
|7. If you want to show an open cervix,
make another gourd womb with an
open bottom, like this:
A womb made from cloth
|1. Cut 2 pieces of material this shape. The material should be about 33 centimeters (13 inches) long. It should be about 27 centimeters (10 ½ inches) wide at the top and about 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide at the bottom. Stretchy material is best.
|2. Cut a circle of red cloth the same size as the placenta. Sew it
to one of the womb
pieces. This circle
shows the spot
where the placenta
|3. Put the sides of the womb together and sew like this:
Leave this end open.
|4. Turn up the open end and sew a seam. Leave enough space for a drawstring to fit inside. This will be the cervix.
|5. Turn the womb right side out. Put a drawstring or a piece of elastic through the seam at the bottom.
|1. To make the placenta, cut 2 pieces of cloth in a big circle. The circles should be at least 22 centimeters (8 ½ inches) across. They do not have to be exactly round.
|2. To make the membranes (the bag of waters), use thin material you can see through.
Cut the material about 30 centimeters (12 inches) wide and about 72 centimeters
(28 inches) long.
|3. Lay one of the circles face down on the middle of the thin cloth. Sew the circle down, leaving a space around the edge.
|4. Turn the thin cloth over. Fold the thin cloth carefully away from the edge of the circle and pin it down so it is entirely contained in the circle. Leave the edge of the circle sticking out.
|5. Put the other circle face down over the first circle and folded thin cloth. Sew almost all the way around, leaving a small opening.
|6. Turn the circles inside out. Take
out the pin, and the membranes
will open up.
|7. Sew the opening closed
|Stuff the placenta with some soft
material like foam rubber, old rags,
or dried grass.
|8. Turn the placenta to the side that has no thin cloth over it. This is the bottom of the placenta — the side that is attached to the womb wall.
|If you like, quilt the bottom to
show the segments in the
placenta. Do not let the quilting
go through to the top side of
the placenta. The top should be
quilt line on bottom
|9. Let the thin material hang down, and sew the sides together to make a tube.
|10. Turn up the bottom of the tube
and sew it, leaving a space that
a drawstring can fit through.
Thread a drawstring through
the bottom of the tube.
|1. Cut a long piece of cloth about 52 centimeters (20 inches) long and 8 centimeters (3 inches) wide.
|2. Fold the material together, lengthwise, and sew along the edge.
|3. Turn the material inside out. Stuff it with something soft, just as you stuffed the placenta.
Put stuffing in
Sew ends closed
|4. To show the arteries and vein in the cord, wind 3 thick strings or pieces of yarn around the cord and sew them down so they do not get tangled. Two of the strings should be the same color. If possible, cover the cord with a piece of thin material like you used for the membranes, so it looks like this:
|5. Sew one end of the cord onto the top side of the placenta (the side covered with thin material). Draw veins on this side of the placenta with a felt tip or ink pen.
|6. Attach the other end of the cord to a doll.
You can sew the cord to the doll or fasten it with a safety pin.
|To show the baby inside the bag of waters, put the doll into the bag and close the drawstring. To show the bag breaking, open the drawstring.
Although any doll can be used as a baby, the best kind of doll has a hard head and a soft body. If you are making a doll, follow these instructions:
|1. Make a hard head with a hollow center from papier maché. Paint a face on the head, and then paint on the soft spots or suture lines.
|2. Sew a life-size body for the doll, with a round head a little smaller than the hard head you just made. Stuff the cloth with foam rubber, rags, or dried grass, so that it looks like a baby’s body. Then stuff the cloth head into the hollow center of the hard head.
|If papier maché is not easy to use, you can try this way of making a hard head. Stuff the body and face with soft material, then stuff the top of the head with one of these: a gourd; a hard ball; a smooth, round piece of wood; or a round stone.
Using models to teach
To show how the baby, placenta, and membranes fit inside the womb, put the baby inside the membranes with the placenta, then put the membrane bag into the womb. Put the bottom of the placenta up against the red circle inside the womb and pin it with a pin.
|1. Pull the drawstring to close the cervix.
|2. Then open the drawstring so the baby can be “born.” (If you want to show that the waters have broken, open the drawstring on the membranes.)
|3. Take off the pin and squeezethe placenta out to show the birth of the placenta.
|4. Explain that the red circle inside the womb is like an open wound that bleeds. Squeeze the womb to show how it must contract to stop the bleeding.
A model of birth: the birth box and birth pants
The birth box
To demonstrate birth, cut and paint a cardboard box to look like a woman’s body. Make a hole that the doll can fit through. Make a belly out of the front flap of the box and breasts out of the back flap.
To make the box more real, you can put it on a cot under a cloth or blanket. Put a doll above the box on the cot so it looks like a woman, then have someone lie underneath the cot. This person can push up on the box to show contractions and make panting and moaning sounds as if giving birth.
Or you can put the womb and vagina you made in the birth box to give people an idea of how the womb and vagina fit in the body.
Use a balloon or IV bag filled with red-colored water to help people learn to manage heavy bleeding after birth.
The birth pants
Birth pants give a more real view of birth. Cut a large old pair of pants with a hole for the vaginal opening. Then have a woman wear the birth pants over her clothes and act like a woman in labor. The woman then pushes a doll hidden in her own clothing out through the hole in the birth pants followed later by the placenta.