Many a time I take the short walk from the Labour Ward to the Antenatal ward to collect a couple in labour and often wonder if it would be easier to ring Pickfords to transfer all of the bags, tablets, candles, pillows etc. I have later in the shift asked “if you could just pass me a nappy and I’ll help to dress your little one”, to be met with a “oh, sorry I think that bag is in the car!”
So, here is a quick guide as to what you need… and what you don’t! Remember, although you are planning a home birth not everything always goes to plan so have a bag packed just incase. I would aim to have your bag ready by 36 weeks. There is no problem getting it ready before then but just make sure it is somewhere you won’t fall over it! Maybe keep the bags in the boot of the car if there is room.
The first thing to say is that hospital rooms are small so you should really try to aim for two bags only – one for you and one for your baby – otherwise you will just find yourself tripping over things.
For you and your birthing partner:
TENS Machine – from both personal and professional experience these machines are amazing during labour. Well worth the investment of hire.
A lightweight dressing gown – hospitals can be really warm so a big fluffy thing will likely get on your nerves – however, if you are asked to mobilise around the ward you will want to wear something.
2 Nightdresses / Pyjamas – labour and birth can be a messy business – have two lots for obvious reasons!
Socks – at least 4 pairs. Once your waters break you continue to lose amniotic fluid and with a hole in the bubble your socks may get wet! Just look at it like singing in the rain!
Slippers – you really do not want to walk around with nothing on your feet but something that is easy to get on and off is great. Again get a cheap pair as you may throw them away afterwards.
Massage oil or aromatherapy – many women do not like to be touched during labour but others enjoy having their back rubbed. If you have a favourite why not bring it as you may find it calming.
Hand held fan – many women feel the flush during labour and waving a fan around can earn some much needed brownie points for you birth partners!
Time wasters! Bring a pack of cards, books, downloaded films on tablets, source of music. Anything to pass the time. We midwives love nothing more than sitting down and playing a game whilst we monitor what’s going on with you and your baby. A game of something will take your mind off things for a little while.
Lip balm – Gas and Air can make your mouth and lips dry so pack a lip salve.
Drinks and Snacks – I always advise against fizzy drinks as usually it ends up in the good old vomit bowl (if we are lucky) but it is really important to keep hydrated and energised. Get some lucozade sweets (not if diabetic) as they are great if you don’t feel like eating.
Bendy Straws – just a couple. Always helpful when you are having your juice held for you.
Bobbles and Grips – A good midwife will always be able to summon up a hair bobble from somewhere but you’d probably prefer to take your own.
Towels and Pillows – hospitals are notoriously short of both and the towels tend to be the size of a postage stamp. Take one extra pillow and the oldest towel you can find that you will probably want to throw away rather than take home.
Toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body-wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes. That’s it! You really don’t need anything else.
MATERNITY PADS – this is in capitals for a reason! These are an essential bit of your kit! Don’t buy sanitary pads as they are perfumed and not as comfortable. Pack 2 packs of these as you will need them.
Big Comfy Knickers – you will probably want to pack your thongs away for a good couple of weeks. Granny knickers will be your new best friend. It’s good contraception if nothing else!
Warmth – make sure your partner packs a jumper! Whilst you are burning up in sub zero temperatures because all of the windows are open – your partner will be freezing!
Eye Mask – sometimes wards are brightly lit – even at night – add a touch of glamour with a jazzy eye mask!
Camera – you need photos to show at your little ones 18th birthday – which, btw will arrive sooner than you think!
Don’t forget! There will be two of you going into the hospital but three of you coming out! Your little one will want a little bag of their own! How demanding!!
So, for baby:
3 Baby Grows and 3 vests – if, for any reason you need to stay in the hospital for longer than expected more clothes can be brought in. Just so you know – baby grows have arms and legs, vests tend to have no legs and short sleeves!
Hat – although once at home babies don’t need hats on indoors, straight after delivery you will probably be advised to pop a hat on your little one.
24 Nappies – no explanation needed!
Water wipes – hospitals tend to advise using cotton wool and warm water but to be honest it can be really messy and, if we are all honest, once home everyone pretty quickly switches to wipes!
Formula – if you know that you are going to formula feed it is important that you ask your midwife what your hospitals policy is and what equipment they provide. Many hospitals now ask you to bring in preprepared milk but you must check as they may not even supply milk for you.
Muslin Squares – these will become a permanent part of your outfits following your new arrival. These are essential for mopping up milk and little bits of baby sick! Welcome to parenting!
Baby blanket – babies lose their body temperature pretty easily so a good breathable blanket is essential – especially for when you take baby home.
Snow suit – for when you go home – especially in the winter months!
Car seat – make sure your other half has practiced taking out and putting in the car seat as it can be a tricky business and not a skill to be perfected at the last minute! Remember that many hospitals will not allow you to take baby home without a car seat.
And finally, take faith! Have faith that you will all be ok and that your baby will arrive eventually! Having a baby can take quite sometime, especially when it is your first baby, don’t lose heart – you are amazing and will get there in the end.