You may have already packed and unpacked your hospital bag twenty times, or you might be avoiding it altogether. Unfortunately the day you need it is going to come whether you’re sure you’ve checked that you’ve put the camera batteries in or you’ve tried to pretend it isn’t happening by shoving your bag to the back of the wardrobe.
While it is no doubt better to have checked and rechecked your bag than not even thought about it, if some of those checks have resulted in you panicking about not having enough high protein snacks you probably need to revise your list.
I remember reading magazines when I was pregnant and seeing their cut-out-and-keep checklists of “essential” items for your hospital bag and wondering what they were thinking. But then I packed it all anyway.
I ended up taking a small suitcase of everything I’d need for what I knew would be a minimum three day stay AND an extra bag of “things I’ll need during labour”. That bag included a book (there was also another in the suitcase – what was I thinking?!), a magazine, a puzzle book, my iPhone charger, camera, camcorder, chargers for both of those, my medication, toiletries, disposable knickers, my notes, a list of phone numbers… I can’t even remember what else. I dread to think how much rubbish I had in my suitcase.
There are many many lists of what to take with you on various websites but if you compare them you’ll see how different they are. The danger is that you’ll get so bogged down in making sure you’ve got everything suggested “just in case” that you’ll get stressed and forget the things that are personal to you.
This list of the very basic things is for you to build up with the things you want to add. Apply some common sense and, when that fails, remember this: there are shops both in and near hospitals. You won’t starve, freeze or get bored. Well, not too bored.
1) Cheap supermarket knickers
Don’t buy disposable knickers. They’re relatively expensive, very uncomfortable and they don’t really fit anyone. Buy cheap packs of supermarket “big pants” – you can get packs of five for around £4 but they’re often reduced if one pair are missing so check bargain bins too – and once you’re done you can chuck them away, but while you need them they’re much much more comfortable than paper pants. Believe me.
Make sure you also stock up on sanitary towels, but buy the cheapest thickest old-school pads you can find. And buy a lot of them. You don’t need to take them to hospital because they’ll give you mattresses but I found that when I came home it was the thick old-school type I still wanted as they helped cushion my sore bits. Whether you give birth vaginally or via C-section you’ll bleed, so make sure you’re stocked up before you go.
2) Nipple pads & Lansinoh
One of the first things your midwife will ask you once you’ve given birth is whether you want to try to feed the baby. It’s really bonding, calms the baby down and makes you feel like superwoman. It also distracts you from anything they’re still doing to your sore bits. Start using Lansinoh right from the beginning because the face you pull when you imagine chapped cracked nipples is nothing to the one you’ll pull if you get them. Look after your nipples and they’ll look after you… or the baby, at least.
Obviously you’ll need bottles and formula if you’ll be bottle feeding, but if you’re hoping to breast feed you won’t need to take the ones you bought just in case (after reading my last post!) because they’ll be able to look after you there.
Think about whether you want nursing bras or just the cheap comfy granny bras you’ve spent the end of your pregnancy in. Because you have, haven’t you? Despite saying you’d never give up the underwire.
3) Cash, camera, cards
You don’t want to be scrabbling around for parking money when you’re puffing and panting your way through a contraction, and if you really need chocolate you’ll need the vending machine. Stick a load of coins in a pocket at the front of your bag and then make sure your other half doesn’t “borrow” it next time he fancies a bag of chips. Don’t worry about spare batteries for your camera – who doesn’t use their phones these days anyway? – but take the camera itself if you must. And definitely make sure you have a bank card of some description because when you find out how much my list has left you without you’re going to need to buy some of it!
Both you and the baby are going to need clothes, but don’t go overboard. The baby needs a vest or babygro that fits (which probably means taking one of each in newborn and 0-3mths – maybe tiny baby) but they don’t need outfits and matching accessories. Other people will bring you things so pack light and then rely on being able to make use of gift bags to get everything else home.
You may be lucky enough to have a partner who knows you well and can work out what you like to wear, but if not then it might be a good idea to put a couple of outfits together and leave them on a hanger or in a drawer somewhere so if you need extra clothes you don’t need to try to explain what you mean. You might think you won’t care what you’re wearing when you bring your beautiful new baby home, but you probably will. And, remembering that you’re still going to be fat but now you’ll also be sore, make sure you plan for a skirt or loose trousers to be the basis of that outfit.
5) Baby things
Apart from clothes you’ll soon discover that babies need a lot of stuff! That baby bag you bought might seem gigantic now but just wait until the first time you try to take the baby out for the day. It’s suddenly minuscule!
But in hospital you don’t really need much. You’ll need nappies (probably not wipes/cotton wool or nappy bags as they have those there), muslins, hats, blankets (although, again, they’ll have those too) and you might want a dummy. I didn’t want my little man to have a dummy but BabyDaddy had to go and buy one so I could get Ted off my nipple and into the car. Don’t take cuddly toys or mobiles or any of the things your baby’s not going to notice and that you’ll probably get bought more of anyway.
6) Nighties, slippers & dressing gown
You’re probably going to need more than one nightie because you’re going to bleed and you’re going to get sweaty and you’re probably going to leak colostrum. The dressing gown can hide all of these things while you trudge to the bathroom at the end of the corridor, and your slippers will stop you from getting whatever the baby’s just emitted between your toes.
7) Stuff for your partner
My husband suggests “quiet things” to keep them busy, like a book or DS or something. When I was in labour all I wanted was peace and quiet. When BabyNanny had the volume on a game on her phone I wasn’t very polite. The chances are they’ll be too busy fussing around you to think about how their fantasy football team are getting on, but you might need them to leave you alone for half an hour so give this some thought. Also put a couple of snacks in for them to nibble on so they don’t leave you to find a cafe and then miss the crucial bit. They might be planning on escaping but you can thwart them!
As far as I can remember those are the important things. I’m probably missing something crucial but that’s what you’re here for, lovely readers. What would you add? Would you take anything out? Is there anything people always recommend that you think is ridiculous? Or did you have a wave of genius?