As your pregnancy progresses, at some point you’ll start to think about packing a bag for hospital so it’s ready when labour starts. There’s no shortage of advice and handy checklists for what you should take, both for giving birth and your subsequent stay on the ward. But Clara, who lives in Belfast, wants advice from the front line – what do you really need to take (or leave behind)?
“I’m six months pregnant and starting to think about what to pack in my hospital bag for when the time comes. I’ve found lots of lists and suggestions, but I’d love to know from mums who have been through it – what items did you take with you for the birth that you’re really glad you had, or was there anything you didn’t take that you wished you had?”
Holly Olugosi describes herself – tongue firmly in cheek – as a ‘cool stepmum and dream wife’. She started her blog after she realised she was writing a lot of very long Facebook statuses all about parenting. A place where she says what everyone else is thinking about parenting but is too polite to say, The Prime Mumister has gained a loyal following – read it at https://www.facebook.com/ThePrimeMumister/
Holly recommends thinking about basic hygiene without going overboard, and making sure you don’t get bored during a long labour.
“The main thing I wish people had told me was that I didn’t need to take enough toiletries to last me for six weeks in the Amazon! Travel-sized basics – shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and not a lot else are what you need. You’re not going to be focusing on your skincare routine after 20 hours of labour, trust me! Three sleepsuits, three baby vests, a pair of socks and a couple of hats for baby. Ten nappies for baby, ten nappies for you – the biggest, ugliest and most absorbent post-partum pads you can find.
“Most people like to prepare for the worst-case scenario of having to be kept in the hospital, but of all the people I know who have had babies, most of them have gone home not having used most of the stuff they took with them. If you’re kept in, it’s likely your other half will nip home at some point to let the dog out/feed the fish/have a shower or just take an hour to clear their head, so they can stock up on essentials during this time if need be.
“I was incredibly grateful to my husband for insisting we took music and an iPad to watch TV on to pass the time, and I would definitely recommend dry shampoo if you’re not in a position to shower comfortably. It’s not to make yourself look lovely, but freshening up will make you feel better if you’re kept in for any reason. Long-life snacks – biscuits, crisps, chocolate, dried fruit – are good for you following labour because it’s likely you’ll be hungry, but they’re also good for your other half who will potentially be confined to the hospital room with you for 20 hours. Blankets – two, maybe. I wouldn’t recommend taking any clothing for baby that isn’t a sleepsuit or Babygro, because you just won’t use it. Oh, and cake. Don’t forget cake!”
Laura Thompson – The New Mummy
Laura is a full-time mum to her one-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She believes in being honest about parenting and is passionate about individual families doing what is best for their needs. She’s a keen advocate of good mental health and helping others speak out about their issues or how they feel. You can find her on Facebook or Instagram as @thenewmummy or head over to her blog at https://thenewmummy.co.uk
Start making a list so you don’t forget anything important, advises Laura – and include a cooling water spray.
“I started writing a list of things I wanted in my bag a few months before I packed it in order to ensure I didn’t forget anything, and if anything new popped into my head I’d add it. I found the most useful things I took were my own pillow and a cooling spray (compressed water) – it stays cool, which is great if it’s warm on the labour ward and I also found it really useful during contractions.
“Take lots of easy snacks like nuts to keep your energy levels up – they can be nibbled on as and when – and drinks with electrolytes to keep your energy levels up, like coconut water. I also took in my own birthing ball to ensure I had one, and it was great for making sure I was staying upright! The best products I took with me is Spritz for Bits by My Expert Midwife – it was fantastic, can’t recommend it enough!
Petia Hak is a busy mum of two very different, independent girls and a young son who likes to display his artistic talent on the walls at home. As part of KinBox, she is dedicated to offering parents a place to share parenting strategies, stories and advice. She loves travelling with her family and discovering new places and cultures.
Petia says it’s easy to get carried away with things you think you ‘might’ need – so try and keep it simple.
“My best advice would be not to over-pack. Stick to the basics – you can find a list of them on any parenting or pregnancy website. Must-pack items for me were my own pillow and a breastfeeding pillow if you plan on breastfeeding. It could be quite tricky to find a comfortable position to breastfeed your baby in a hospital bed, especially if you’re a first-time mom or have had a C-section.”