Tuesday, 10 July 2018

What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag | The Ultimate Guide



What should you pack when you go into hospital to have your baby?

It’s a popular topic, and for many first-time mums, it’s the great unknown. There are so many things that you can’t plan about a birth, but making sure you have the right supplies with you to ensure you and your baby are comfortable is one thing you DO get a say in.

In all honesty, I think that both times I’ve been about to give birth, having a well-prepped hospital bag ready to go has been a huge part of my coping mechanism.

I’m currently 38 weeks pregnant with baby number two, so you may think I’d know what to expect this time, but the truth is that each birth is unique, and I’m aware this experience may be completely different to delivering my son Theo. What I do know, however, is what I took with me to the hospital before that proved genuinely useful.

Last time, I found the NHS Choices website a great resource for letting me know what the hospital was expecting me to take. But what I found even more helpful were blog posts and videos from real mums - so here is mine!



The Travel Bag
Getaway Tote Bag | Stella and Dot


See the source image

It wouldn’t really be any kind of ‘What’s in my bag?’ without showing the bag itself, would it? And my faithful companion of choice is the Getaway Tote from Stella and Dot, which I’ve used for every holiday and weekend break since I got it. There are so many reasons I adore this bag.

I love the design, with navy and cream stripes,  tan vegan leather handles, and a colourful wipe clean lining that is a godsend if you have toddlers or are just prone to random spillages like me. It's lightweight and extremely durable and well-made, plus you can cram so much in, thanks to the secret expanding centre panel that instantly creates extra room.

I found a holdall or weekend bag much more useful than a suitcase, as it's less faff to unzip and grab things from in a hurry. I used the Top Home Solutions packing cubes (order via Amazon) to keep the bag contents organised - both for my own peace of mind, and so other people could find stuff in the bag quickly.

Sanitary Items



Ok, brace yourselves, because here’s where it all gets a bit real. We’re going to be talking blood and poop. That is the unavoidable messy reality of childbirth, however much you’re aiming for a Zen crystals-and-chanting experience in the birthing pool. There are a few essentials you will need to take care of yourself straight after you’ve had your baby.

Pack of Maternity Towels


You’re going to be experiencing bleeding for a week or so after you have your baby as everything heals up, and so a must-pack item is maternity towels. These are the super-thick kind - you can get more slimline versions, but I found the more substantial ones to be best to begin with.. Don’t be tempted to just use regular sanitary towels -  a lot of these have a breathable mesh layer with lots of little holes, and if you end up having an episiotomy, these can catch on your stitches. Ouch!

Pack of Disposable Paper Briefs


These are so deeply glamorous, I know. But disposable paper pants are another really helpful thing to have with you, just to keep things hygienic and stop any mess. No one wants to find themselves handwashing their pants in the hospital, after all. This is the best solution all around. I layered them with a pad and my pants and then felt slightly as if I was wearing a nappy, but ultimately confident that there wouldn’t be any leakage.

Pack of Breast Pads


Whether you’re planning to breastfeed or not, milk leakage is another beautiful fact of having just had a baby. I didn’t have any major issues with it last time, but it's better to be safe than sorry. These paper covers slip into your bra and absorb any leaks. You can also get reusable cotton versions that you wash, which is more eco-friendly, but honestly? I don’t think anyone needs that level of hassle with a new baby to care for!

Newborn size nappies


You’ll need to take a few nappies along with you for the baby while you’re in the hospital. I would advise getting one of the smaller ‘carry packs’ to begin with, as babies sometimes need the next size up right away if they’re bigger. Newborns tend to go through quite a few nappies, so you’ll probably be using one or two every hour.

Huggies Newborn Wipes


Newborns have quite sensitive skin, so you can’t use regular baby wipes to keep them clean. In fact, in my antenatal classes, they said only to use lukewarm water and cotton wool for the first few weeks. But if you’ve ever tried to clean newborn poop (two words: Sticky. Explosive. This isn’t like regular poop!) with a bit of damp cotton wool, you’ll know it's almost entirely useless. It gets stuck to everything and it doesn’t do a good job.

Thankfully, there are now a few baby wipes on the market with no alcohol or perfumes, or anything like that to irritate newborn skin. A lot of people I know love Waterwipes (get them at Boots or Amazon), and I picked up these Huggies Newborns wipes. If you do choose to use wipes straight away, make sure they say on the pack that they’re safe for delicate newborn skin.

Clothes for Baby



This is really the exciting part as you get to pick a little ‘coming home’ outfit for your new baby. Theo went home in a Cookie Monster vest (Daddy insisted...) and I’ll always treasure it.

Extra Large 'Swaddleplus' Muslins | Aiden + Anais


An absolute essential for any new mum, muslins are your ultimate multi-tasker, and I prefer the oversized ones as they are even more useful. You can use them to swaddle the baby, act as a shade over the car seat or pram, wipe up any spillages or baby sick and act as a breastfeeding cover or a light blanket.

Newborn vests (x3 ) | Primark


Forget any ideas about fancy little outfits - for the first few months, it's far more realistic and practical to dress the baby in a vest and a babygrow, plus more comfortable for them. Again, sizing - some babies are in 0-3 months straight away, so you never really know. You also don’t know how long you’ll be staying in hospital when you’re packing, but I think three sets of everything is about right. It’s enough for a couple of days and a spare in case of poonamis. Any longer a stay than that and you will probably be having fresh supplies brought in by a loved one.  Vests easily get messed up at this stage, so I favour Primark for inexpensive basics.

Newborn baby grows | M&S


With Theo I found that the M&S stuff was always very much on the large side and has plenty of room to grow into, so even though these are the newborn size, I think we’ll probably get a bit more wear out of them. This cute little set has a cream with pink spots design, one with pink stripes and one with a bunny print.

Newborn cardigan | M&S


My daughter is due in July, and it's likely to be quite a warm one, but newborns get a lot colder than we do, so it's still a good idea to have a newborn cardigan that they can wear with you. The advice is generally for your baby to wear one more layer than you would, so if you feel the need for long sleeves, baby will need long sleeves plus a cardigan. This little grey textured one is so cute.

Reversible hat | Joules


Your baby is also likely to need a hat, so I’m packing this floral print one that has candy pink stripes on the reverse side to keep my daughter nice and snug.

Wool receiving blanket | John Lewis


You’ll also need a little blanket to take them home in - this is one that we used for my son when he was born, so I got it out of storage and gave it a wash. Call it a family heirloom!

During Labour Essentials





Small zipped organiser pouch | Orla Kiely


There are a few things you might need while you’re in labour and immediately afterwards, and I found it helpful to have them in a little grab pouch ready for Seb to get in a hurry without having to sift through my whole bag.

Entrolax tablets


How have we come back onto the topic of poop? I’m not sure how to put this delicately, but a lot of new mothers can get backed up because they struggle to go to the toilet after their delivery. You’ll be asked a lot of questions about if you’ve managed to go yet by your midwife or health visitor - these tablets can just help this get moving a bit easier!

Boots Rehydration sachets


It’s really important to keep up your hydration levels, especially if you’re breastfeeding, so I found that these powders are great after delivery to make you feel a little more normal.

Nuxe Reve De Miel Lip Balm


Using Entonox (gas and air) can make your lips dry out, so it's good to have a stick of lip balm to hand that you can grab.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Spray


Labour can be long and sweaty, so a refreshing spray is a really nice thing to have to hand to mist off your face with and help you keep your cool.

Invisibobble


If you have long hair, you may want something to tie it up with, so I also include a hair tie in my labour essentials.

Boots Handy Wet Wipes


A quick way to freshen up and wipe down sticky hands and necks. After my last delivery, I went straight in the shower, but if that doesn’t happen this time, wipes are useful to have close by.

Cuticura Original Floral & Fruity Hand Sanitiser Gel


Hospitals are full of germs, and with a newborn with a fragile immune system to look after, you’re going to want to make sure that you and your visitors can quickly sanitise your hands. It might sound a bit paranoid, but post-partum infections can be a big deal, so why take any chances?

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream


This is an absolute essential! Breastfeeding can be quite unconfortable and difficult at first, and I found that this little purple tube is really the only thing that worked to soothe me. I went through literally so many tubes of this with Theo, and I wouldn’t be without it.

Medela Nipple Shields


When your milk supply first comes in, or you’re getting started with feeding, it can be hard to get newborns to latch on, and one of the things that helped enormously for me was using shields. In the end, I used them for quite a while as I got mastitis. I tried a couple of different brands, and these were the only ones that worked, so I’ve made sure to pack some this time to try and ensure that feeding gets off to a smooth start.

Snacks and Drinks



Graze Protein Boxes
Peckish Sea Salt and Vinegar Rice Crackers
Foodie Market Cacao & Cashew Quinoa Bar, Nakd Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

Pow Sports Nutrition Energy Gel
Lucozade Sport
Vita Coco Coconut Water


Eating in hospital is all kinds of weird. While I don’t recall ever feeling exactly hungry while I was in labour (which was the best part of THREE. FREAKING. DAYS, just to clarify) there was also time spent hanging around when not much was happening, missed meals because night and day are turned upside down, and a need to keep your energy up.

So small, snacky, protein-packed things were about right. I’m packing some little trays of the Graze protein snacks, rice crackers, and some of the Nakd bars (I took Alpen cereal bars last time and they were just too dry- like sawdust!).

Lucozade is something the hospital advise you to take, and although it's fairly disgusting, it's good for a quick energy hit while you’re in labour. If I really can't stand to eat anything at all, I've packed an energy gel to keep me going. Giving birth is like running a marathon, so prep like a marathon runner!

Coconut water I definitely wouldn’t contemplate going into hospital without - it saved my life last time. Birth and breastfeeding are intensely dehydrating, and coconut water contains electrolytes that rehydrate you faster. It was like the elixir of life, I couldn’t get enough of it!

Clothes For You




Clothes for you in the hospital are all about comfort and modesty. Forget fashion for the time being and just go for lots of natural textures and loose fits. Maternity ward chic has its own rules!

Again, you just don’t know how long you’re going to be there for. I’m hoping for a quick labour and a same-day discharge this time, but last time I was in hospital for four days in total (three days before my son arrived, and one afterwards). So you might need a couple of changes of pyjamas, plus an outfit for seeing visitors or going home in.

Black cotton nightgown | Primark


While you can deliver the baby in a hospital gown, they tend to be quite flimsy, so it's a good idea to pack your own. You want it to be loose and comfortable, plus something you can feed the baby in easily. I just went for this plain black cotton one - black hides any stains and this was inexpensive enough that it can just be binned if necessary. I’m also packing some pyjamas. The shower you have after the baby arrives is something glorious, so it's good to have a fresh outfit to change into.

Waffle cotton dressing gown | M&S


Hospital wards are generally roasting hot, so I don’t think I’ll need a heavy dressing gown for comfort, but it is nice to have one for modesty’s sake. Last time I found there was a breakfast room that everyone went to in the morning to get their food, so it's good to have something to pop on top of your pyjamas. I’ve just gone for this light cotton robe.

Elasticated Pyjama bottoms | Paul Smith


I’m also planning to take some pyjama bottoms with me, this is more so that if I stay in a couple of days or I get visitors, or I need to get up and walk around the hospital grounds, all of which I did when I was in with my son,  I feel sort of respectable!  It may not bother you, but I felt a little uncomfortable being in a public place in nightwear, so pyjama bottoms are a little more covered up. These ones have a comfy elasticated waistband and are a light cotton material.

Long-line ribbed vest tops (x2) | eBay


These vest tops are something I’ve lived in while pregnant - they’re a soft, stretch cotton and a long line cut that is absolutely ideal for covering a mummy tummy - there’s nothing worse than tops that ride up. I’ve packed a couple of changes, and one I will wear as nightwear while the other is what I’ll wear to go home in.

Black shaper leggings | Primark


The other part of my going home outfit is quite simple - just a pair of stretchy black leggings, a size up from my usual. They’re practical and easy to wear and lounge about in - you don’t need to be wrestling with jeans or dresses after giving birth.

Grey Waterfall cardigan | Ted Baker


A light knit cardigan is the ideal top layer. I love waterfall style ones because they're easy to breastfeed in and the drapes disguise your tummy as well. I can throw this on if I get chilly and to leave the hospital in.

Black high-waisted cotton briefs (x3) | Primark


Scrap what you think you know - go for the high-waisted granny pants! If you did need to have a C-section unexpectedly, the stitches fall right where the waistband of your briefs would usually be, so you need the full Bridget Jones option to avoid this. 100% cotton is the thing to go for - lace and other materials don’t bear thinking about - and again get some plain and inexpensive ones  in a dark colour that can be thrown away if they get messed up.

Maternity bra (x2) | John Lewis


The best maternity/breastfeeding bras I found last time around were these ones - simple, comfy, crop-top style bras that unhook at the shoulder straps for feeding. I like these ones because they have some gentle padding in to support and add shape. There were a few styles of bra I tried while pregnant and breastfeeding last time that I really didn’t like (unhooks in the middle? Hello accident waiting to happen…) so when I found this style I lived in them for a year.

Carriwell Organic Postpartum Girdle | JojoMamanBebe


Last time, I wished that I had given a post-partum binder a go. Everything is very loose after you’ve had the baby, and your core feels like jelly. A girdle provides extra support to your back and stomach while everything contracts again, and encourages everything to settle back where it should be! One of my friends on maternity leave last time was from South Africa, and she said that it's standard practice to wear this kind of support afterwards - she was surprised that it didn’t seem to  be a ‘thing’ in the UK. I want to try it this time and see if it helps me to recover quicker.

French Navy Flip-flops | Havianas


Flip-flops are a definite must. I found them a lot more useful than the slippers they tell you to bring - slip them on easily to walk around the ward, and you can also wear them in the shower - hospital bathrooms can be pretty germy places, after all.

Grey Cashmere socks | The White Company


Did you know that your feet can get really cold while you’re in labour? I suppose it makes sense, as all the blood is helping out your vital organs. It's not something I recall being a problem last time (well, I had an epidural so I couldn’t feel my feet either way in the end…) but they are a useful item to have with you, and these have to be the softest, most comfortable socks in the world.

Other Useful Items




I can’t think of a category for this, but these are the other items that I found really useful last time and wouldn’t be going to hospital without this time.

Cotton Laundry Bag


So that you can tip all of your and baby’s soiled things in, and then just empty straight into the washing machine when you get back from hospital, rather than having to dig through the bag.


Eye Mask


Hospital wards are horrible places to try and get to sleep. They’re always light and noisy, even during the night, plus you may be trying to snatch a moment of rest when you can. So I found taking an eye mask really useful last time. You need as much sleep as possible at this point!

Samsung Galaxy Tablet


As I’ve said, the duration of your stay is the great unknown. Last time, I was on the ward for a few days before having my son, so my tablet was an absolute life line! I have my Kindle app, packed with great novels, Readly for my magazine fix, and Netflix if I want to watch a show or a film. I prefer to take my Galaxy tab as it’s much smaller and lighter than my iPad. A great perk for me working at the university is that it’s on the same wi-fi network as the hospital. Hurrah!

Headphones


Essential to use with the tablet or just to block out the noise on the ward. Being able to listen to some music, or a relaxation track if you’re struggling to sleep, is a saviour.

Microfibre Towel


Make sure you bring a towel for the shower - microfibre ones are space saving.

Chargers


You don’t want to run out of juice when you’re stuck somewhere, so I’ve made sure to pack charger leads for my iPhone and my tablet. I’d recommend getting a spare just to keep in your hospital bag, because you don’t want to be rushing around trying to look for one if you need to go to hospital!

Letter to Daddy


This is a tradition I started when I had Theo, so it only seems right to continue it with baby number two. The first few weeks after your baby arrives can be, quite frankly, like a bomb has gone off in your nice, well-ordered life (anything that came before will seem well-ordered by comparison, even if it wasn’t!). Sometimes I felt that Sebastian and I were like ships that passed in the night - one of us was always busy with the baby. I actually missed him!

We’d been through this incredible event, but we weren’t getting to talk to each other. I’d anticipated this might be the case a little, so before I went in, I’d written him a letter, just saying things like how excited I was for us to be a family and what an amazing dad he was going to make, and I gave it to him after our son was born.

There can be a lot you mean and don’t say and a lot you say and don’t mean when a baby is born, and it was nice was to communicate what I wanted to and make a keepsake.

Toiletries






‘Good Vibes’ striped pouch | Stella & Dot


You may be lucky enough to be in and out of hospital in a few hours, or you may be looking at a few days stay - and either way, you’ll probably want a shower after delivery, so you need the basics to freshen up to hand.

Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes


These are the best wipes I’ve tried to get every bit of makeup and grime off, so I stock up on these travel packs of them from Amazon whenever I’m going away.

Slimsonic Toothbrush


A great one to take away, because it's battery-powered, so you it's one less thing to charge (plus no charger lead to pack for it either) but still delivers a powerful clean. The cover also means it's perfect for travel.

Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste


To help me freshen up, I like this toothpaste, and the container is a handy size for popping into my wash bag.

Venus Travel Razor


Of course, no one is expecting you to have perfectly smooth limbs when you’ve just had a baby, so it's entirely personal preference, but I don’t feel properly clean if I’m fuzzy, so taking this travel razor is a must.

Optrex Dry Eye Drops


I tend to get really gritty, irritated eyes when I haven’t slept well so some soothing eye drops are a morning essential for me.

Elemis Superfood Face Wash


To gently cleanse and refresh your face, there nothing nicer than this wash which is packed full of goodies like kale. It even smells good for you - all green and soothingly herbal.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream


To smooth and rehydrate my parched post-baby face, this stuff is a great face cream that always makes me feel like a new woman.

Herbal Essences Clearly Naked Dry Shampoo


I don’t know if I’ll be bothered to actually wash my hair, so this is a good thing to have just to freshen up that sweaty mop afterwards! This one actually does give you that clean and tingly feeling, and it doesn’t leave white powder all over your roots either.

Dr Bronner Magic Soap


Always a good travel item because it has so many uses! You can use it as shampoo or as shower gel, and it's really mind and made from natural ingredients.

Nivea Invisible Travel Deodorant


A travel deodorant is a must-pack, and this is my favourite as I hate white deodorant marks getting on my clothes.

Yes To… Coconut Oil Stick


Is there anything that coconut oil can’t do? It’s the ultimate multi-talker and cuts down on taking a bunch of other things. As a cleanser, a body or face moisturiser, a hair serum - as it's organic and naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, you can even use it on your newborn. The one drawback is that it can be a little messy, which is why I’m in love with this stick version that cuts out the inconvenience. Best. Thing. Ever.

Make Up






‘In The Bag’ zipped pouch | Katie Loxton


There will be plenty of people reading this who couldn’t care less about taking into makeup into hospital with them, but I am not one of those people. For me, putting a little bit of concealer on was something that made me feel human again after what is quite an epic ordeal. Self-care necessarily takes a backseat through the days that follow having a new baby, so any small thing you can do, in my book, is important. Being a mum already, I’ve developed quite a quick and basic makeup routine that can be done in ten minutes or less with these essentials and just makes me feel a lot better…

Pixi Poreless and Flawless Primer


I got this in the Tili Mini Go Flawless Collection, and it's a little tube of smoothing, line-minimising magic. LOVE.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream


My ideal every day base, this is light so it doesn’t feel like you’re caked in heavy foundation, but still offers great coverage. This new illuminating version is even better for making you look a bit more well-rested! It doubles as skincare, as it contains anti-aging serum and SPF50 - so you also need take less skincare products. The slim plastic tube with a pump is also easy to travel with. I’d say this is my ‘busy mum’ essential!

YSL Touche Eclat Concealer


A winner for chasing away the shadows and faking a few hours sleep - plus the pen applicator makes it so easy to brush on.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder


A great powder to set with as it's illuminating too and doesn’t look heavy on the skin - it's whisper-light but sets everything in place well.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette


I got this for my birthday and honestly, it's the best thing when you’re on the go. It's got a selection of shades to bronze, highlight, and blush that can be quickly swiped on, and they’re all very natural, you-but-on-a-good-day colours. As with all the Charlotte Tilbury powders, they provide such a beautiful veil of colour that looks natural and beautiful. Plus, this compact has a good, clear mirror in the lid ideal to use to put the rest of your makeup on.

Anastasia Brow Definer Pencil


This has been packed because the angled tip and the spoolie make it super easy to brush and fill out brows in just a few seconds, which instantly makes you look better put together straight away. If my brows are good I can pretend to the world I have my act together!

Charlotte Tilbury Rock n Kohl - Barbarella Brown


A pencil liner is so much easier to swipe on quickly - you don’t have to be precise like you do with a liquid liner, it's way more forgiving! The finish on this one is so powdery and smooth.

Pixi Shea Butter Tinted Lip Balm- Honey Nectar


For my lips, this neutral coloured, super moisturising balm is ideal. Soft, easy to wear, not too ‘done’ - it's just a gentle, sheer wash of colour and really softening.

Phew! Well done if you made it to the end of this post - I wanted it to be comprehensive. Good luck to all the mamas about to bring life into the world - remember to be kind to yourselves.

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