#MidwivesOnTheFrontline PPE Drive

cloth gowns

As there is limited research available on the effectiveness of reusable cloth masks and gowns against COVID-19 infection, the Association of Ontario Midwives has been echoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) that cloth masks be used by health-care providers as a 'last resort' only.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), many midwives and other health-care providers across Ontario are reaching the point where they need to rely on that last resort. Homemade PPE is certainly better than no PPE.

To keep our midwives and the families they care for safe, we are asking our extraordinary community of midwifery supporters to make cloth masks and gowns for midwives.

At this time, thanks to donations of masks that have been coming in from numerous community members and organizations, the need for cloth gowns is a higher priority, as are donations of gloves, alcohol-based hand rub and disinfectant wipes.

We are tremendously grateful for the contributions of community members that midwives have already received, and the donations to come. We recognize that this request requires a significant amount of time, resources and effort, and we cannot thank our donors enough for their generosity and grace. 

How to donate

Connect with your local midwifery group

We encourage anyone looking to make a donation of reusable cloth masks or gowns to please contact their local midwifery practice group(s) to arrange for a direct donation. This direct communication is the best way to organize donations according to specific practice groups’ needs, as well as to coordinate timing and mode of delivery. Use our Find a Midwife tool to locate a practice group near you.

Contact the AOM

If you are looking to coordinate a donation to multiple practice groups, or are unable to coordinate with your local midwives, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page so that we can ensure that donations make it into the hands of the midwives with the most urgent need.

Alternatively, you can email Leanne Horvath with 'Masks for Midwives' in the subject line. Please specify the type and quantity of items for donation, and the town/city the donation is coming from.

Guides for creating cloth gowns and masks

Below you will find a number of resources, including simple sewing instructions for masks and isolation gowns. We invite you to share your creations on social media, being sure to tag us @OntarioMidwives and use the hashtag #masksformidwives.

Currently, there is an urgent need for cloth gowns for midwives across Ontario. 

Isolation gown patterns & tutorials

Hospital-grade isolation gowns are typically made from polyester or polyester-cotton blend fabric. Gowns to be used as PPE by health-care providers should have elasticized long sleeves and be easy to put on over clothing and to remove (e.g., with built-in fabric ties or snaps).

Cloth mask patterns & tutorials

There is very little literature on homemade masks, and even less comparing different patterns. As a result, we cannot recommend any one specific pattern over another. However, many health-care institutions are now requesting homemade cloth mask donations and providing instructions and patterns. Most are currently recommending a two-ply design using a tight-weave cotton for the mask, and elastic, bias tape or fabric strips for the ties.

Below are several options with simple step-by-step instructions:

Best fabric for cloth masks

Limited evidence suggests that the best choices for DIY masks are:

  • Cotton T-shirt fabric
  • Tight-weave cotton pillowcases/sheets
  • Other 100% cotton materials

"These materials filter out approximately 50% of 0.2 micron particles, similar in size to the coronavirus. They are also as easy to breathe through as surgical masks, which makes them more comfortable enough to wear for several hours."

SOURCE: [Smart Air] What are the best materials for making DIY masks?

Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to withstand repeated laundering and machine drying without damage or change to shape
  • Be changed every six hours, or when they become damp or soiled (so each person will need several masks to keep up with this practice)

Please be sure to use clean fabric for your cloth masks.

AOM statement on PPE shortage in Ontario

Read our statement on the shortage of PPE (PDF 220 KB). 

Contact us to make a donation

THANK YOU for supporting Ontario midwives to continue to provide care in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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