Wherever you have chosen to have your baby be it in in hospital, at home or in a Midwife-Led-Unit (MLU) it is a good idea to have your hospital bag ready in time - we sometimes think we have a bit more time but pregnancy and birth can be unpredictable.
When should we start preparing our hospital bag and what should we put in it?
It really is a good idea to start thinking (from the third trimester) what you may need if and when you enter into a hospital setting to have your baby and whether you may have to spend some time in this environment for postnatal recovery and support. NHS guidance say it should be at least two weeks before your due date. Me personally at 30 weeks pregnant I am already gathering things together for my hospital bag just to take the stress out of things later on in the pregnancy.
So, do we really need to plan what to put in our bags?
Think of it like this, it would be so comforting for you and your new-born to have around you those things from home that bring you extra cosiness and even that feeling of security. It could be your teddy bears, an extra blanket or a t-shirt from your partner with their familiar smell, flip-flops for the shower and the all-important fluffy socks. If you are a lone parent something from your home that feels familiar and evokes feelings of positivity is equally as good for comfort during labour and postnatally. Soothing and healing snacks and drinks are also ideal to help your body recover in the most supportive ways. The experience of birth especially during a pandemic will be new and so nobody can predict how long you will be away from home and what you will need during this time. By planning your bag carefully, you won’t have to be stressing about these things last minute and end up filling a laundry bag with everything but the kitchen sink. This way, you and your birth partner will be concentrating on have a positive birth experience and not thinking how you forgot your fluffy socks!
Suggestions for your bag.
Food for fuel
It is really important to keep your body fuelled during labour, birth and postnatally. Here are some suggestions for healthy delicious snacks, make sure you bring what you enjoy snacking on to keep up your energy.
Crisps – baked not fried
Dried figs and dates
Oat cakes or biscuits,
Avocado, non-acidic fruits and maybe some hummus
Prunes (in case of constipation)
Plenty water, energy drinks and non-acidic juice
Herbal tea bags
Outfits for you.
2 or 3 Loose fitting pyjamas and or nighties for before and after, if you are nursing you may want to consider easy access with a button down or crossover top. If you are considering skin-to-skin, don’t be like my mate who wore a high-necked kaftan and had to hike it up to get skin to skin.
Dressing gown and slippers
Flip flops for the shower
Loose pants (disposable ones are good for after birth) approximately 6
Warm fluffy socks
2 or 3 nursing bras
Head scarf /bonnet (because you know you want them edges laid)
Loose fitting outfit for example a tracksuit or leggings and a T shirt – outfit for going home. Remember you are birthing like a queen.
Outfits for baby
Nappies, wipes and nappy sacks
An outfit for home-time
A pram suit for home-time to include warm hat for winter time
And don't forget the essential car seat
Extra essentials for you & baby:
Washbag with toothbrush, toothpaste, flannel, hair ties, shower cap, shower gel/soap/ face wash
Lotion / body balm
Essential oil blends for labour and childbirth e.g., clary sage, ylang-ylang, jasmine carrier oils can be grapeseed or almond check them out and see which ones you like. Do your research and see which are the best ones for labour, birth and postnatal support and make sure they do not interfere with any medication you are currently taking.
Phone, charger & headphones
Magazines, books, colouring books, crossword - Anything to occupy your mind when not resting or looking after baby
Last but not least- Don't forget your maternity notes booklet with your birthing plan and extra numbers for support i.e. partner, parents, and family & friends support network so you can contact them if and when.
I hope this has been helpful from one mama to another - Happy Birthing!!!
get involved in the conversations and join any or all of the sessions being offered supporting women birthing in these challenging times.