If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably been gathering bits and bobs into your nice new suitcase you have purchased especially for THE hospital trip – y’know, that one where you go in as a couple and leave as already knackered parents, albeit ecstatic about taking your little bundle home.
But what exactly do you need in your hospital bag?
Here are my top tips and recommendations.
1. First up is the pretty important one; your dog-eared hospital notes, that yellow paper book that you’ve been guarding with your life for the past 40 weeks. I do wonder what would actually happen if the dog ate these?!
2. Maternity pads! Not only are these completely necessary for everything they don’t tell you about at your antenatal class, but they also double up as an extra cushion for your war-wounded bits. They’re usually on some sort of 3 for 2 offer. Buy three packs. Thank me later!
3. Speaking of which….big pants, huge pants! Don’t bother with those flimsy, spray tan style disposable pants – I headed down to Primark and got some XL black ‘full briefs’, they were about 5 for £2 and I remember thinking at the time of purchase that just one pair could help transport my weekly shop home from the supermarket, but by jove they come in handy. Cheap enough to just throw away if things get too mucky post-birth but also large enough to house the aforementioned maternity pads in the days after birth….and in my case, the weeks. Best. Contraception.
5. Phone charger. Labour can take a long time and if all is going well you might be grateful for some contact with the outside world. And you want to be fully charged to do the big announcement when the time comes!
6. Camera. If for nothing else, you need to get that scrunched up little face, cone head picture on shot – because your baby will never look quite like the few minutes after delivery ever again. Well, hopefully not. Dad this is not for you to take any pictures of ‘that end’. This is strictly head end footage.
7. Make up. Your bits may feel like they don’t belong to your body but if you’re feeling up to it, put a bit of slap on before leaving the hospital. It might be the only time in the next few days/weeks/months that you get the chance.
The camera will also come in handy then too, for the obligatory just leaving hospital picture, the ‘look how glamorous I am after labour’ shot. I definitely wasn’t that with my first – infact I resembled a Cabbage Patch doll. This time round I’m going to go all Princess Kate as I make my fancy exit. Shuffling, with my maternity pad firmly lodged in my giant apple catchers.
8. Obligatory energy drink, cold water, snickers bar, snacks. Now I didn’t have any time for any of this but as well as being the temperature of the Equator in the hospital room itself, the jugs of water they provide are not much colder so freeze so some water ahead of the day. If you’re feeling up to it and you think you’re in for the long haul, then break out the Snickers, the Wagon Wheels and whatever else you think you can stomach. Remember though – what goes in, must come out. On that point, why do they recommend a curry to get labour going?
9. Magazines. Labour can be long and laborious – make sure you have packed enough entertainment for your boyfriend/husband/mum/birthing partner because no matter how helpful they are being, at the time – they are going to be THE most annoying people on the planet, just for breathing. They’ll also come in handy for your overnight stay – if you choose to stay; guaranteed you’ll be knackered but adrenalin will be sky high, not to mention a newborn adjusting to the world, so getting shut eye might not be that easy.
10. TENS Machine. I absolutely loved mine! I was determined that I didn’t want an epidural. I’d heard wonderful stories to do it but I’d also heard the saying ‘Don’t let your partner look down there, it’s like watching your favourite pub burn down, its never the same again’..and I wanted to do all I could to preserve this pub. I figured not being able to feel anything ‘down there’ may result in more damage than good so Tens all the way for me!
11. A supportive birthing partner. Consider the feelings of your partner if you opt to have anyone other than just the two of you. Many times I have heard people say “I couldn’t do it without my mum“. Labour is a really lovely (and horrible) experience, especially first time round. It’s daunting, you’ve never done it before, your partner’s never done it before and so to have your mum sweep in can take the special moment away from the people that actually made the baby in the first place!
My story goes; I wanted my mum, he wasn’t so keen, so we opted not too. When the labour got a little hairy and he started to go the same shade as the pure white Dulux wall – suddenly he wanted my mum there. Fast forward an hour, in strolled mum and dad, dad whisks him out to get some fresh air, mum spills a whole jug of warm water over me and the bed through nerves and proclaims ‘Ooh I’m so nervous, I could do with a G&T….” and I’m there thinking, would I be better doing this alone?!
This time around, he has already volunteered to be out of the room from the off.
No. Such. Luck.