Without naming and shaming I’ve noticed a trend of companies targeting first time Mothers with scar tactics and then pushing their product-a pre-packed Hospital bag on them for a ridiculous amount of money. One bag I saw was priced at over £100.00. Really? Unless it’s Gucci I’m not paying over £100.00 for a bag! So yes this you could say is a blog entry to prove anyone can pack a Hospital bag for a fraction of the cost.
So you’re about 30 weeks pregnant and a friend asks you the dreaded question ‘have you packed your Hospital bag yet?’ and you immediately break into a sweat because you haven’t even looked at a bag let alone packed one yet. Fret not Mama, we can help.
Firstly, you really need to look for a bag. Maybe you’ve already got an overnight bag at home you could use? I honestly suggest two bags-ideally one should be a baby changing bag. Boots Baby Club actually offer a free bag via their club. That bag would be perfect for the Hospital.
Let’s first pack your baby bag (as it’s easier-trust me):
- Newborn nappies-I suggest two packs in case of a longer unplanned stay. If you need more you have enough supplies to send out support to get more
- Cotton wool or baby wipes that are suitable for newborns (I’ve found some in Tesco)
- A hat, socks and mittens (to stop baby scratching face)
- 6-7 sleep suits (I believe in over packing when it comes to baby)
- 6-7 vests/bodysuits (again best to over pack these items then under pack)
- A cardigan-even in summer as babies get cold
- A comfy blanket for baby
- IF you plan to bottle feed your baby with formula milk you will need to back pre-made packaged formula cartons (University Of North Staffordshire Hospital provide disposable bottles and nipples but you MUST provide the milk. Please check the policy at the Hospital you plan to give birth at for further information).
- 4-8 Muslin squares-these are a huge help and should never be under estimated. They can be used as effective ‘burp’ cloths.
- A simple going home outfit-nothing too fancy as it will be quite stressful dressing a newborn with lots of buttons-trust me on this one.
Now let’s look at YOUR bag:
Firstly pick a bag that is big enough for your requirements-don't just buy a bag because it says it's a Hospital bag; that's just a clever way of making money.
For the birth the following items are useful:
- A supportive partner (if your actual partner is rubbish at support please bin him and replace him with a more suitable person)
- Your Birthing plan-a valuable piece of kit if you took it seriously which I did
- An old nightie to give birth
- Stop watch-not essential but may help to keep track of contractions
- Flip flops-you will start to feel warm and won’t want to wear comfy fluffy slippers
- A hand held battery operated mini fan-especially in the warmer months
- Bottle of water and STRAW-when you are pushing you really don’t want to be holding a bottle to your mouth. Instead get your birthing partner to hold the bottle and take sips of water
- Something to keep the hair out of your face (if you have long hair) .e.g. a bandana, alice band or hair ties.
- MP3 player with your favourite music, sounds that relax you, an audio book or ten or if you you find comfort in religious lectures or Quranic readings download those. Ensure there is a FULL battery to support you through a long birth (well you never know)
- TENS machine-for pain control. You can hire the machine or buy one
- SNACKS-a long birth will usually mean you feel hungry. Pack a few suitable snacks for yourself and birthing partner-but don’t over pack. I find granola bars extremely useful in these type of situations.
- you will need suitable swimwear-just remember you may not wish to remain in the water throughout the birth
- flip flops
- a large towel
If you plan to breast feed:
- Nursing bras-2/3 should be enough
- Breast shields/pans for painful nipples
- Nipple cream-I don’t have to explain this do I?
For after the birth:
- Camera- with memory card and fully charged battery
- Camcorder fully charged with memory card (if you are filling your baby’s first moments-most mobiles can do this these days)
- Disposable knickers (available at a reasonable price at Asda)
- Maternity pads (Boots pads have a great review and are reasonably priced at £1.05 for 12).
- Shampoo and conditioner (2-in-1 is much better), face wash, deodorant, your favourite moisturiser (especially if you are using one to combat stretch marks) body wash-try to take small travel size bottles or decant your favourites into small bottles. I’ve noticed a set of small plastic bottles in poundland-priced at yes you’ve guessed it £1.00), sponge
- Bath and face towel
- Tooth brush and tooth paste
- 2-3 PJ sets (in case of a stay over)
- Bath robe and slippers
- Your own going home outfit (choose wisely. If you pick a fussy outfit you may regret it if you do end up with a C-section. Anything flexible free flowing is a safer bet than anything that sits on the area that could potentially be a C-section wound)
- Mobile phone with full battery-turn off your phone to conserve battery as you won’t be able to charge your phone in Hospital
- A small notebook and pen-useful for noting down how much milk little one drinks and how often
- Ear plugs-if you stay in Hospital on a ward the noise will get to you. Do your sanity a favour and get some earplugs to drown out the noise of the other Mothers (imagine a Janice from Friends-Oh my God!).
Ideally you should pack your bags at least 4-6 weeks before your due date. If you are expecting multiples then pack earlier.
A few suggestions for loved ones:
partner-perhaps you can help with the packing of the bag? Why not volunteer to pick up the essential bits and offer to pack them? Every little bit of support is important.
Friends-if your friend is one of those who does things at the last minute why not suggest that you and your friends will provide the Hospital Bag as her Baby Shower gift?
Whatever happens; relax and just take the list along to your favourite store and load up your basket with the essentials and don’t panic. No one can predict the future or how your birth will be but if you do put in a little effort into the planning and you should remain stress free-come what may.