Monday, 8 February 2016

What's in my hospital bag

This post was meant to be published a long long time ago, but as batch cooking and waddling around took most of my energy in the last few days of pregnancy, this post became lost in my draft folder.  I've finally dug it out and thought I'd share with you what I packed in my hospital bag, and also, with the benefit of hindsight, what I could have left at home and what I could have done with taking! 

If you Google 'what to pack in a hospital bag' you will be inundated with information and lists galore as to what you can't possibly even start labour without.  Some lists range from the very minimal to the darn right ridiculous. As this was my second baby, I felt that I had some understanding of the things I needed and I could vaguely remember the bits that I wish I had taken last time and had to send my husband out to get for me.  

First off, the bag.  I searched and searched for a bag that was going to be big enough to fit all of my essentials in, but unless I was going to rock up to the ward sporting a two-week holiday sized suitcase, there was no way it would all fit in one bag.  I decided to take a small suitcase which would contain all the things for baby once he or she was born and an overnight bag for all of my essentials and the things I would need during labour.  

Separating your bags in this way means you know exactly where everything is and if you are instructing your husband as to what to pass you, you can at least narrow down which bag it is in.  It also means that after baby is born you can keep one bag for used / dirty items and the other bag for your clean items (labour can be a messy business).  (I do wish I had packed a carrier bag for this reason). 

My overnight bag was from Cath Kidston and was the perfect size.  It also came with a brilliant detachable small case that I could put small items into. 

In my bag for the actual labour, I took a loose button down night shirt to wear from Primark in a few sizes up to accommodate my bump.  I spent ages wondering what to take to wear as I'm really not a fan of nightgowns and the ones I had seen had Minnie Mouse or a teddy bear on them (!) which really isn't my thing.  The nightshirt was perfect and meant I could easily breastfeed too.  It turned out I never even wore it as I was too in the throes of labour to even be bothered to get changed once we were on the ward.  I just knelt in my bra and I was as happy as Larry, well not quite, but getting changed was the last thing on mind.  But an outfit to birth in is an essential whether you end up in your bra or not.  

I took my TENS machine, and snacks which included sugary sweets and water for me.  Again, I only really sipped the water and didn't want anything to eat, but everyone is different so definitely take some energy supplies.  Also, pack for your husband too.  Mr Bee gets a tad hangry when he hasn't eaten and I wanted him on top form, so I made sure to pack some crisps and chocolate for him.  

For after the birth I took a pack of large maternity pads, disposable knickers (both are ESSENTIAL), breast pads (even though my milk didn't come in until day three). I took clean pyjamas and slippers to wear, clean underwear and nursing bras.

Toiletry wise I took shampoo and conditioner, dry shampoo in case I couldn't be bothered to wash my hair, my usual face wash and moisturiser, face wipes, deodorant, body butter, a razor (I was like a monkey last time), shower gel, toothbrush and paste.  I was actually really glad I took these things as it felt lovely to get in the shower afterwards and just feel really clean and fresh. I took a hair-dryer which I didn't use, I just piled my hair on my head as there was no way I was using it and waking baby. 

I did pack some make-up essentials and I know some people wouldn't dream of taking these, but it felt nice to just put on some foundation and mascara after I'd had a shower to make me feel more human.  I think this is a personal thing. 

I got discharged home after 6 hours of the labour, but I think if I was staying longer I would definitely have needed more maternity pads and disposable knickers. You really do lose alot of blood post birth which I had forgotten about. 

Onto baby's things...

Clothing wise I packed a going home outfit for baby which was a cute little dungaree set. I also packed 4 long sleeved sleep suits, 4 short sleeved vests and 4 long sleeved vests. (I always think it's really hard to know how to dress a newborn, they say the rule of thumb is what you are wearing plus an extra layer).  As LL was a winter baby we dressed her in a long sleeved vest with a sleep suit or her outfit over the top. I also really struggled to know what size to buy.  LL was 6lb 2oz born and to be fair the clothes were a little bit big.  I ended up packing newborn size for her and then I took a 0-3 month suit just in case she was a 10lber!  

I also took two hats and a cardigan.  Scratch mitts and socks (both were way too big and not really needed, most newborn sleep-suits have built in scratch mitts that you fold over).  

I packed a snow-suit for when we left the hospital and a thick blanket. 

I also packed one pack of nappies, cotton wool, nappy sacks and a little pot to put water in.  I can remember last time on the ward I struggled to find something to put water in for the nappy changes as I didn't want to use wipes straight away, so I thought I'd pack my own this time.  It's just a cheap little pot, but it meant I could fill it with water and give LL a little wash and change her quickly without needing to run back and forth to the sink. 

Other things I packed were my hospital notes, a present from LL to give to my daughter which was wrapped (it was a little doctors set), my phone and charger and then I also took a spare pair of clothes for me. We took the car seat and left this in the car. 

Again, as I had a 6 hour discharge, I didn't use all of the items, but it's best to be prepared!  With my daughter I was in hospital for nearly a week.  If you are unsure if you are over packing, you could always pack an extra bag and leave that in the car so your partner can get it later for you if you needed it. 

I did read that someone suggested taking pillows and a birthing ball, but firstly I don't think I would have fitted in the car with all of it, and to be honest they have things like that on the ward, unless you are very attached to your pillow and want to give birth with it I'd leave it at home. 

I really loved packing my hospital bag and I can remember feeling really excited collecting all the bits and packing and re-packing.  It's quite a surreal experience knowing you are going to be leaving the hospital with another little person.  

Is there anything you would take that I didn't? Or do you think I over-packed? What was your number one absolute essential for the hospital?  I think mine was the TENS machine and disposable pants!  

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