When you’re getting ready to have a new baby, whether your first or your 2nd/3rd/19th, the hospital bag is one of the most important things to have planned out. I would suggest not taking the approach I took, which involved a lot of putting it off until it was a little too late and ending up stuck in hospital trying to assemble the bag in dribs and drabs. The earlier the better is the general rule with these things, and if there is a next time, the bag will be being prepared from the 20 week scan!
There are some essentials which you really need with you in hospital that are vital to be put in the bag, but also there are things which while not vital will prove to make your stay a little more peaceful and happy than it could be afterwards. These bits are a mixture of both. These are of course, in addition to the norm; toothbrush/toothpaste/shampoo/shower gel/etc.
1. Maternity Pads.
May as well get this one out of the way first. Glamorous these are not, but man are they essential for any hospital bag after labour. Resembling a big white canoe, the green packs of hospital grade pads are necessary for the first couple of days at least as your body resumes normal life after having a baby. As the lochia (which pretty much takes all the good of not having had to deal with your menstrual cycle for the last 9 months) can be quite heavy and unpredictable for a number of weeks, it is a good idea to stock up on these, as it can be quite an awkward conversation to describe exactly which ones your partner needs to pick up. Don’t worry though, they do stock them in the hospital shop, so if all else fails, you can hobble down yourself to get them.
2. A Tiny Fan
Dependant on the time of year, your maternity ward is likely to go between tropical and saharan temperatures, very rarely being any colder. This can mean that the pregnancy weight will slide off you in sweat alone if you’re in for a few days, and it can be quite uncomfortable. I was in hospital in March and the room was pretty unbearable for most of the day heat-wise, so I would definitely recommend getting a tiny motorised handheld fan, or even a manual fan to be able to blow some cooler air onto yourself during the hotter moments.
Bring a few of these in your hospital bag, as the aforementioned lochia can be unpredictable and ruin a few. You will need one of these for the labour ward, expect to be throwing it away afterwards. Penney’s do some fantastic old lady nighties which are super comfy and quite good for breastfeeding in as well, at quite reasonable prices. Do ensure you get this bit sorted out in advance so you are sure you get the right kind and aren’t trying to tell someone else what to get. The lighter the better, especially during the warmer months. If you like, bring pyjama bottoms for during the day to throw under the nightgown for going around the ward. Slippers are also a good bet for the wandering about, make them as comfy and easy-on as possible.
4. Large Undies.
Nobody ever told you this was going to be the most glamorous week of your life. The hospital ward after childbirth (vaginal or c section) is no place to be sporting tiny underwear, the fashion of choice is rather more of a Bridget Jones vibe. Make your peace with it, they’re comfy, and large enough to hold those massive pads you will be wearing at the same time. The real trick is knowing when it is time to leave the realm of the big comfy undies afterwards.
5. Going Home Clothes.
Again, this is not the time to channel your inner going out diva. Just remember, Kate Middleton had a team to make her look glamorous, and she still wore something that looked relatively comfy. You are going to be sore. No matter what way your birth experience goes, theres a good chance that for the next few days at least your body is still going to be playing catch up.
You’re not going to instantly be back in your old jeans, so hang onto those magnificent wondrous inventions, maternity jeans, for a few more weeks (at least). Those or a comfy tracksuit are perfect for heading home in. If you’re like me, the trip home is going to consist of not much more than home, sofa, food, nap. Not a red carpet in sight, so take it easy. Plenty of time to channel your Yummy Mummy fashionista in the next few months.
It’s not pretty, but it’s true, you can wind up pretty constipated from the medication involved in that whole childbirth process, especially if you wind up having a caesarean section. Add in the absolute fear of the pain and possible stitches, and you’re not in for a fun time. Make sure to stick a bottle of Dulcolac in your bag to keep things regular and keep up the fibre in your diet. It was only in hindsight that I realised why my hospital stay seemed to just consist of being fed Weetabix and brown bread. It wasn’t them being cruel, it was practicality and one I really needed to keep up at home.
7. Ear Plugs
More essential for before baby is born (if hospital does call beforehand), or if Dad is taking his turn at minding baby while you get some kip. Maternity wards are loud places; between other women in early stages of labour, crying babies and the eternal noises of the corridor, it can be difficult to get some peace and quiet. The wax earplugs are a good bet for tuning everything out.
8. Make Up
In the days after your darling child is born, there will be photos. Lots of photos. You may wish to not resemble that wonder woman you are after the hours of effort to get this gorgeous child out, and instead look like it’s all been a breeze, so that you can look at those photos a few months later and see that it was indeed the most beautiful day of your life. Best to pack the makeup bag yourself into your hospital bag and not leave it up to himself. On this note, do not hide from the camera just because you don’t think you look your best. In years to come, you will regret not having those photos more than regretting the fact that you can see your dodgy skin/hair (take it from someone who made this mistake).
9. Baby Clothes and Accessories
Do not forget the hat! Make sure to bring a few vests, a few sleep suits and at least one hat. The scratch mitts are optional; our fella didn’t leave them on long enough for it to matter (to this day, he still freaks out if his hands are covered). Be prepared for multiple changes of baby, newborn poop explosions are evil, and that stuff does not come out right. Do also be prepared to potentially have to send someone out to buy smaller/bigger clothes for your baby; and be aware that sizes differ quite a lot between shops; I remember looking at a Newborn sleep suit from Mothercare and wondering what steroid plan this child was on! I don’t think my little man fitted into it for a few months! Also, don’t forget the nappies!
10. Magazines, Books, Phone Charger and other such entertainment essentials
Unless you are one of those lucky fast and furious labour people ( I do envy you!), you could be in labour ward for quite a while waiting, in particular if it is an induction. Make sure there is entertainment in your hospital bag! Get those crossword books out, make sure that phone is charged for the eternal stream of “Is it here yet?” texts and perhaps make a move towards the Top 100 Books list. It may well be the last chance you have for a while to chill out with a book completely guilt free. Don’t forget the camera/your phone for those first pictures with your new precious bundle. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can also download shows onto your device to watch offline during the wait for baby!
Those are my top ten essentials for your hospital bag, let me know if I’ve missed anything vital in the comments below!
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