This week, excitingly I was featured as an expert in Mother & Baby magazine. What should you pack in your hospital bag? Or, birthing bag if you’re planning a home birth – always good to get all your gear together in one place, and makes for a great nesting ritual.
Here’s a taster. For the full article, go to Mother & Baby.
What should I pack in my hospital bag?
To wear in labour: comfy things like a vest top, slouchy T-shirt, comfy robe. You might prefer to go primal and take it all off. You may want a bikini top if you’re in the pool, but chances are you won’t really care.
Hair bands, a headscarf or a wide head band to keep your hair out of your face.
Facial spray or rose facial spritz: it doesn’t have to be an expensive brand, but it’s great for refreshing and cooling you down during labour, but also for the postnatal ward if you feel you need a pick-me-up.
Lip balm: gas and air can make your lips dry so make sure you have some to hand for later.
Lavender oil and a flannel: Lavender oil has multiple uses. It can be used for your partner to massage your lower back or neck. It has a comforting and uplifting scent which can have amazing powerful effects for relaxing and calming you down during labour. A few drops on a flannel draped across your forehead can also help to shut out the world around you if needs be, and help you to get into the zone with deep breathing. It’s also an antiseptic, so a few drops on your maternity pad post-birth can help to soothe your perineum. It’s a proven antidepressant as well, and aids relaxation and sleep: so postnatally a few drops on your pillow or dabbed behind your ears can be magic for the soul.
Other essential oils such as Frankincense and clary sage can also be comforting during your labour, but make sure to always check oils in advance for whether they are suitable for pregnancy.
Lavender wheat bag: they are amazing for relieving tension, and can be placed over your eyes, face or lower back. A hot water bottle can perform the same function for the lower back, easing pain and tension. They’re great postnatally too if you’re on the ward, as a lavender wheat bag over the eyes will help to send you to a zen place.
Yesmum cards or other positive affirmations that you’ve made for yourself. Never underestimate the power of the mind in labour. Surround yourself with positivity.
Load up some podcasts, a guided meditation or hypnobirthing relaxation onto your phone.
A pillow or pillow case, as it’s comforting to have something that makes you feel relaxed as if you’re in your own home. It’ll allow you to soften into your labour if you don’t feel like you’re in a totally unfamiliar environment.
A dark-coloured towel.
Nightie or open front pyjamas: anything you feel really comfy and cosy in, with a high, loose waistband and easy access for breastfeeding. You need to feel comfortable. Dark colours are best – it’s maybe not the time for your Cath Kidston flowery white stuff, as you never know what kind of bodily fluids from you and your baby are going to be spilling all over it. You might fluctuate between being boiling and being a bit chilly, so have something that’s easy to take on and off, or maybe bring yourself a scarf you can throw over your shoulders for those chilly moments.
Warm furry or fluffy slippers: they’re much nicer than flip flops, as even if it’s the middle of summer, the floors might be chilly as you’re pottering around the postnatal ward, and it’s another nice item to make you feel at home.
Lightweight dressing gown or some kind of robe you can throw on if you’re birthing in a pool, or if you have a few days’ stay at hospital and you’re going to the loo and back a lot.
Big knickers. Always think big with the knickers. You’ll need to have wear maternity pads for a while after your baby is born, and if you’ve had a C-section you really don’t want anything touching the scar area. Granny pants a go-go!
Pads, both maternity and breast. Lots of each. Your milk might not fully come in during your stay in hospital, but it might, so it’s best to be prepared.
Nipple balm: you may not feel sore with the initial stages of breastfeeding in hospital if your baby takes to it like a pro, but you’ll need vats of it during your breastfeeding journey anyway so it’s best to have it to hand.
Earplugs: postnatal wards aren’t generally that peaceful, and don’t worry about not hearing your baby cry. We have a sixth sense for these things. Earplugs might just allow you a bit of valuable rest.
Frozen Ribena, or anything you can drink with a straw. Chuck loads of cartons of Ribena in the freezer in the days before you go to hospital. Then when the moment comes to go to hospital, throw them in the bag. They’ll be cold and refreshing throughout your labour, and it’s useful to have drinks with a straw so that if needs be, your partner can help you to drink and you can be hands-free. If there are any left over once the baby is born, it’s great for making sure you keep hydrated and keeping your blood sugar levels up.
Some kind of survival snack pack for the postnatal ward if you need fuel in the middle of the night. Dark chocolate is the healthier option, but this isn’t the time to berate yourself if all you fancy is a Mars bar.
You can order my book Pregnancy: The Naked Truth here.
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