It felt as though I was planning what to pack in my hospital bag for my entire pregnancy. Perhaps this was because it was something non-threatening to focus on as The Big Day loomed or perhaps it was because it reality, there’s no real way of knowing what you’ll need when the time finally comes around.
In the end, I packed everything I read about and some extras just to be on the safe side, but I know that I’m not the only woman to have had a baby who found most of these usual ‘must-have’ items totally redundant or truthfully, just a bit crap. Aside from the obvious essentials (clothes, toiletries, slippers etc), there are some things that I won't do without if I find myself in that situation again!
And so, I present to you the ULTIMATE hospital bag essentials that you haven't already thought of…
A Good Variety of Food
I thought I was being so clever and healthy packing organic protein bars in my hospital bag, as my emergency mid labour pick-me-up. Oh, what a horrible, horrible error that was...
Eating was the last thing on my mind at the time, but towards the end of my 18 hour labour, D thrust an extremely dry protein bar in my face at the behest of our midwife and I swear to God, eating that was one of the most challenging moments during giving birth.
My mouth was dry as a desert from all my mooing and groaning and THIS hellish lump of vegan misery was what I had to munch on?! I will never make that same mistake again.
For me, moist food that is easy to chew and swallow is a must. However, others will have a very different experience and maybe a protein bar will be just the ticket. My advice is to pack a picnic so when the time comes, you’ll have a choice and then after the hard work is done you can scoff the rest!
I read all these lists when I was packing my bag that instructed me to pack disposable pants. Uncomfortable paper pants when my hoo-ha is at it’s most vulnerable? I don’t think so.
It’s very true that you will need many, many pairs of pants that you’re happy to dispose of after use, but please splash out on 30 pairs of cotton undies from Primark instead. I raided the 25p sale basket and came away with an impressive haul of enormous pants (that’s the other thing – go big or go home! I’m a size 8-10 but I was loving my size 14 knickers).
I’m sorry, I know it’s perhaps not the most environmentally friendly option, but buy the cheap pants, wear them and delight in throwing the hideous things away…I don’t still have and wear a few giant pairs, promise…
Organic Cotton Maternity Pads
I almost didn’t treat myself to this little luxury, but I was so glad that I did.
Regular sanitary towels are a BIG no-no. The ultra absorbent wicking material those are made of may be handy for keeping mess at bay, but they’re designed to keep you dry down there and that can lead to delayed healing and even infected or dropped out stitches.
You can get non-organic, non cotton maternity pads, but my Organyc pads were so soft and so padded – definitely what you need after giving birth!
If you’re brave enough, you can get really lovely cotton or bamboo re-useable pads too and they are a joy to wear (I got mine from Cheeky Wipes). Ordinarily they’re designed for you to wash and use again, but I did end up chucking mine. Post child birth is extenuating circumstances…
Natural Pain Relief
5 months on and I’m still pretty proud of myself for going 100% med free during a quite difficult labour and I largely put that down to the natural pain relief that I used.
I arrived at the MLU equipped with a TENS machine (BRING SPARE BATTERIES!!), a homeopathic child birth kit from Helios, a hot water bottle, a handwarmer (that D wrapped up in a flannel and held lovingly on my perineum!) and of course, D himself and his 18 hour massage.
I had also pre-prepared by going to amazing pregnancy yoga classes, which also included some hypnobirthing techniques, at Lotus Bud Yoga with the incredible Ann Carroll. A blog on that coming soon!
A BFF Belly Wrap
I loved my BFF wrap by Belly Bandit. Oh, what a brilliant, brilliant thing! The £80 price tag might seem a little daunting, but trust me, it is soooo worth it.
I was lucky enough to be sent one of the BFF Belly Bandits to test out and I wore it day and night, only taking it off to bathe, for the full recommended 8 weeks. My stomach flattened at an unbelievable rate; my water retention disappeared; my back and stomach muscles would ache like I’d done a weeks worth of heavy weight at the gym if I didn’t wear it and I got not one, single stretch mark.
I am recommending this to all of my pregnant friends. If you buy one thing as a treat to yourself, make it this. One awesome Push Present.
Hypercal & Propolis Ointment
I had some pretty nasty tears after the fact (I ripped my labia IN HALF! Yes, you read that right) but my midwife was astonished at how well and how fast I healed.
Regardless of whether you go straight home after having your baby or you stay a while in hospital or MLU, you’re bound to have quite a few sleepless nights ahead of you as you adjust to the panic of being a parent (“is he still breathing?!”) and the relentless feeding regime, so make the most of it.
I didn’t have a diary with me, but I wish I had. Write about the life-changing experience of birth; the struggle of the baby blues; the bizarre and overwhelming feeling of becoming a mother. Document it all, raw and in the moment.