When I was pregnant with Emma, there were a lot of questions. This is normal, considering I am a first time mama. I suspect I was a bit of a nightmare pregzilla (is that even a term?) because I am a person who likes to know the ins and outs of things, I like to be prepared and organised, and most of all I like to PLAN. Unfortunately you cannot plan a birth; babies arrive when they feel like it. Most of the time anyway.
You pack your hospital bag weeks in advance (just in case) and it sits by the door gathering dust (unless you’re a clean freak). In fact you’ve researched what you need to take in, and by the time you’ve done packing, it looks like you’re off to Majorca for a week.
In many cases, most mamas are only in hospital for an overnight stay, and at most a couple of days following a C-Section, and all being well, Mama and Baby are home within 3 to 4 days.
So what do you actually need in your hospital bag?
After I packed my hospital bag for the 6th time, my husband went through it, and pointed out that I was not going on a holiday and re-packed it for me. He pointed out things like “Do you really need enough underwear to last you 2 weeks? Are you planning to change your underwear 6 times a day?” and “why have you packed a pair of jeans, you’re not going to want to wear them if you end up having a C-Section are you?”
So, here are my essential needs for a hospital bag for first time mamas.
Big and Cheap Comfy Pants
Not only do you want the cheap ones (think pack of 5 for £2.50) you want them in black. Childbirth is a messy affair, and black pants means it’s easier to hide the blood. Believe me, there will be lots of it. That first shower, will look like a serial killer had a frenzied session in the shower. And if they need to be thrown out, then at that price it doesn’t matter if you chuck them in the bin.
Remind yourself that you will be birthing a child, through your vagina. There WILL be some bruising; there may be a tear or a cut. Get yourself some Arnica tablets. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy said to help with strains, sprains and bruises. Anything that can help has to be a bonus.
When you go for that first shower, think of how many other women have used it. Yes it gets a very good clean afterwards, but unless I’ve cleaned it myself, it’s not *really* clean. Flip Flops will make sure that you don’t pick up any nasty bugs, like the verruca virus. So you can shower in them and not worry about picking anything nasty up.
Shares with Always
Your midwife will tell you to pack some maternity sanitary towels. Don’t Bother. Get yourself some shares with Always, because for the next 6-8 weeks you will spend a small fortune on these products. You will change your sanitary towel every 2 hours (approximately). Consider this, you’ve not had a period for almost 10 months, so once that baby is out, your uterus has a lot of shedding to do. For me, I got the super absorbent night-time towels, with wings. Often you can get these on bulk buy offers, which will save you money too.
These take up less room than a pair of slippers, and the non-slip grip on the bottom will mean you shouldn’t go tits up whilst walking down the corridor at 2am when you’re bleary eyed and can’t remember which door is the one for the toilet.
Reusable breast pads
Whilst they cost more than a pack of 80 breast pads, they are reusable. You will be washing a lot of babies’ clothes, so you can chuck your breast pads in the same wash. They are super absorbent, and in the long run will save you money, AND they will take up less space.
A Camera or Camera Phone with charger
You will want to capture your babies first moments. A photo as soon as they are born, the photo of them on the scales (proof 20 years down the line when you child asks “how much did I weigh?”). I have no less than 250 photos of Emmas first few days. Every moment was captured. First wash; first outfit; first cuddle with dad/mama, grandparents and so forth.
A set of loose and comfortable clothing to wear home
A set of loose, comfy trousers, or leggings, as well as a loose top and a cardigan. You don’t need to dress up. Make sure it’s comfortable for the drive home.
Those are my 8 essential hospital bag items.
Don’t forget something to sleep (ha ha ha) in, a nursing bra and toiletries. If you do happen to be for a while, then your partner can always bring more stuff in for you, as and when it’s required. Don’t weigh yourself down with heaps of stuff, because you may not be there for long, and if you are there for a while, you’re likely to change beds/rooms at least once. They don’t have a baggage trolley in the postnatal ward.
Now that I’ve experienced it, I know better for next time, maybe.