This definitely isn’t a Mummy blog, but after having been to hospital twice to deliver babies, I’ve learned a little something about what to pack in my bag for the hospital stay and what I didn’t really need despite those lists of what I supposedly needed to bring with me. Here’s a little insight into my hospital bag that any expectant mothers might find useful. It’s not everything in my bag, just my absolute must-haves. Note this is just stuff for me/you, not stuff for the baby. If you want to know what to bring for baby, there are a million lists out there that are all basically the same (jumpsuits x 5, singlets x 5, bunny rugs x 3, nappies, wipes, the end).
For the birth:
1. Wireless bluetooth speakers
I really enjoyed the distraction of music while in labour, and I had two playlists, one called “Delivery Room – Fast” and one called “Delivery Room – Slow” and they were what you imagine. Fast music for when I needed to focus on a beat or fast rhythm of my favourite upbeat songs, and a slow one for when I needed quiet time but didn’t want just the silence of the delivery room. I also found these great for during the days once bub was born to have a little music playing softly in the hospital room to drown out the sounds of the hospital. We used my iPod and iPhone’s bluetooth to have music playing nearly constantly while in the delivery room. It also meant that when my babies were born, there would be a song playing that I will associate with that moment for the rest of my life, which is nice when I hear it on the radio or it comes up on my iPod in shuffle mode. An instant reminder of a wonderful moment in our lives. For my daughter it’s Sitting’ On The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. For my son, we’re not sure because things happened VERY quickly, so I know there was a Killers song playing a few minutes after he was born, but in the moments before that? We have no idea, sadly!
2. Toiletries bag (hairbrush, mouthwash, hair elastics, cleanser, moisturiser)
When in labour, I’m not Beyonce or anything, and how I look is the last thing on my mind. But there a level of discomfort involved in being in labour for a long period of time and feeling really grotty and gross at a certain point and just wanting to freshen up a bit. A mini hairbrush and a spare hair elastic meant my husband could brush my hair and tie it up when I felt messy and exhausted, and the mouthwash was great for making me feel like I had fresh breath after hours of not being able to get off the delivery bed due to the baby’s heart rate monitor. The cleanser and moisturiser I didn’t end up using during or right after labour, but I wanted to have them just in case I needed to wash my face and feel fresh faced and have hydrated skin after hours in the same room with recycled air coming in.
3. Snacks and drinks
Some women feel like eating during labour and some don’t. I fell into the latter category and maybe had a bite or two of something but for the most part I didn’t have an appetite. But it’s always good to have snacks on hand, especially for your birth partner who will most likely get peckish. A lot of people say to bring lollies with you for the sugar, but I liked having a variety of snacks other than lollies for something a bit more filling. Nuts, date bars, and cheese or tuna and crackers were a nice alternative in case I wanted something a little more substantial. We also bought a couple of bottles of Gatorade as an alternative to just drinking water, but I did have my large Camelbak water bottle with me that I could drink from without having to hold it – the nozzle is perfect for someone to hold to your lips when you need a sip and it won’t spill or dribble anywhere because they’re totally anti-leak. I was incapable of holding my water bottle when it came to pushing with my son. I would just whisper to my husband “water, please” in between pushes and he held it to my mouth. I didn’t even have to open my eyes to drink from it. Definitely a worthwhile purchase.
4. My own pillow
Hospital pillows are GARBAGE. They’re weirdly aerated so when you lie back they sink slowly down to nothing, and the pillowcases are always so crisp and rough from so much washing. I brought my own pillow both times in a coloured pillowcase so it wouldn’t get confused with the hospital ones. It meant that I had a little bit of comfort and that nice smell of home while I was in labour and in the days that followed after the birth. There’s nothing like your own bed, so having your own pillow is a nice little comfort item to help you rest and sleep a tiny bit better.
Things I did not need despite the internet saying I would:
– a written birth plan: you cannot plan a birth. You can plan for the experience you want and hope to have, but ultimately the only person in control of how the birth goes is the baby. Definitely have a list of things you would like to have (music, a fitball, a tub for a water birth, etc), but I think not having anything too detailed written down lets you go with the flow a little more. Just my opinion.
– A nice nightie/outfit to labour in: dude, childbirth is messy. You want to feel comfortable, sure, but trust me – just ask for a hospital gown and call it a day. So many people are examining you and poking and prodding that a gown provides easy access, and if it gets messy you don’t have to worry about washing it, you just get a new one. Save the nice nightgown or pjs for post birth when you want to feel fresh and clean after your shower.
For post-delivery and the hospital stay:
1. Multi Mam Compresses
I first learned about these when I had my first baby. To put it bluntly, they’re for your unbelievably sore nipples in those early breastfeeding days when you feel like your boob is going to split open every time the baby tries to latch on. They’re basically like a moisturising mini wet towelette that you pop in your bra whenever you’re not feeding and the cool aloe vera soothes and heals like nothing else I tried (and I tried a bunch of things because I had a baby who couldn’t latch on for the first four weeks or so because she was so little). I tell everyone who is expecting about them because they are so freaking amazing and soothing, and really helped heal the damage my daughter was doing when she was trying to latch on. Not all chemists sell these, but I’ve seen them at several major chains so they’re not hard to find.
2. Seamless crop top bras
A lot of people say to sleep with your maternity bras on to prevent sagging and help you feel a little more comfortable in the months post-birth. I did this for about three weeks, then got a raging case of mastitis and felt so constricted at night with a bra on that I nearly lost my damn mind. One day while in Target I passed by a display of those seam free crop top style bras and I bought a couple to wear at night. I wanted to feel like my ladies were reigned in, but not strapped down and unable to move. These were the perfect compromise for night time. Wearing something meant I could still put nursing pads in my crop top if I needed to, and my boobs felt supported but not immovable. They’re easy to pull down for breastfeeding and ultimately made me feel like I wasn’t all strapped up like a normal maternity bra made me feel. I pulled out the padding though, as I really didn’t need or want it. Let’s face it, your boobs are massive enough in those first few months – extra padding starts to make you feel like you look a little obscene, right?
After my daughter was born, I wore those undies with the waist band that comes right up to your bra. It helped me feel like I was tucking everything back in gently and not just having my tummy flopping around. Plus, after the birth, I didn’t realise how hollow my lower abdomen would feel – it’s something no one ever mentioned. It sort of felt like a deflated balloon for a week or two until everything shifted back to where it belonged, which was a feeling I did not enjoy. Some people swear by recovery shorts, but they are CRAZY expensive, even second hand, so I just went and got a couple of pairs of shapewear undies from Target the first time around, and this time I also bought a shapewear long singlet as well. Feeling like your non-pregnant body shape is gently being moulded back to what it used to be is a nice feeling (in my opinion), so if you want a little bit of support I recommend just buying a few pieces of shapewear to help that part of post-natal life.
4. Loose yoga pants
You’ll probably want to wear PJs for the first day post-birth, but once you want to get dressed, yoga pants that a slightly fitted, but still stretchy in the leg are the ultimate comfort choice. Lycra leggings can be uncomfortable and tight at the waist line and crotch, particularly if you have a caesarean I’m guessing, so yoga pants made of soft, stretchy jersey fabric are far more forgiving and comfy in the days and weeks post-birth.
5. Singlet tops
I never really found great breastfeeding tops that were fashionable enough for me to feel good in the first time around (they all have that horrible folded, layered front that makes me look like I’m still pregnant, so no thanks), so I resorted to wearing my normal tops with a singlet under them. It meant I could pull my top up and pull the singlet neckline down to feed the baby without exposing my whole stomach to the world. KMart and Target sell basic ones in a range of colours for about five bucks a piece, so I stocked up on black and white ones to wear in the first four to six months post-birth when baby is feeding more frequently during the day and they were a godsend.
Hospitals are stupidly loud, especially maternity wards where there are babies crying all. the time. And if you get moved to a room WITHOUT A DOOR OUTSIDE THE NURSES STATION on your second night, don’t expect to get any sleep. Earplugs might give you and your partner a little bit of shut eye. Don’t worry, you’ll still hear your baby cry since it will be three centimetres from your face in the cot next to the bed.
That’s basically it – there are other things, obviously: make up (if you want it – you probably won’t, trust me), more toiletries, all the post birth stuff (lots of pairs of comfy black undies, maternity pads, nursing pads, etc), and those are things I bought as well, but these are the things I found really valuable that I didn’t always see on those lists.
What did you bring to the hospital that isn’t on all the usual lists?
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