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Your hospital 'go bag': What to pack for that trip of a lifetime

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So, you’re 30-something weeks pregnant and wondering what to have at the front door, ready for the big day. Here’s a guide, thrown together from various lists and my own experience, writes North Shore mum Kylie Flament. 

Choose some, or choose them all – these items (in no particular order) are all to ensure that you and baby have a comfortable hospital stay.

Items for you

  • Heat packs – for pain relief. These really work! Check with your hospital which ones they’ll allow you to use. Generally, they won’t allow hot water bottles or wheat packs (but these are good at home).
  • Water bottle(s) – with a sip lid. You may get in to some weird and wonderful positions and will need to stay hydrated at the same time. I had two bottles, one with water and one with juice (it helped with leg cramps and energy, too).
  • Warm socks and/or slippers – Most women get cold feet during labour as your body focuses its energy where it is most needed. Plus, slippers are nice to wander around the ward in afterwards.
  • Book/magazine – There may be a long wait between contractions, so something to distract you is good.
  • Massage oil – If you think you’ll want a massage during labour.
  • Lip balm – Not that you need to worry about glossy lips at this time, but it will help you dehydrate during labour.
  • Bikini – If using a birthing pool and you’re the shy type, you may want to wear something in it, although most women are more comfortable naked (and, hey, there are no secrets from the midwives by the end of the day!). Just don’t pack a one-piece as you’ll need to get the bottom part off when things really get going and you don’t need any extra hassle.
  • Tennis ball – This is great for massaging your lower back or wherever you need to apply pressure for comfort. Either your partner can use it on you or you can press it against a wall using your back and move it around to where you need it to be.
  • Clothes post birth – Opt for comfortable, roomy clothes and PJs including easy-access tops for breastfeeding. And remember to bring something warm. You only need a couple changes of clothes as space is at a premium in most rooms, and someone can always bring more clothes from home if you’re in for more than one night.
  • Going home clothes – PJs may be fine in hospital, but you may feel a bit odd wearing them out the front door. Again, choose something comfortable – your favourite jeans can wait for another day.
  • Underwear (several pairs) – Head to your local department store and grab at least five pairs of really comfy ‘granny knickers’, one size up from your usual. Trust me, you will not want to be wearing anything tight after giving birth (and you need room for maternity pads which are HUGE). Assume that you will end up throwing some or all of them away, so don’t spend a lot of money on them or worry about what they look like. Dark colours are best.
  • Toiletries – Think a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser, moisturiser, deodorant (although baby wants to smell you, not anything artificial, so go easy on all the scented stuff. Natural products, such as the Sukin Australian Natural Skincare range, are better).
  • Maternity bra – If you’re like most women, you won’t bother with a bra for the first few days while figuring out breastfeeding, but you’ll want one on-hand for when you have visitors and when it comes time to leave the hospital.
  • Breast pads – Once your milk comes in you’ll leak like crazy, so have a few of these with you, especially if spending more than a few days in the hospital. Many women can find the disposable ones scratchy (and some are filled with a dubious-looking gel substance), so I’d recommend the washable cotton ones.
  • Phone and charger – Think of all the photos of the new bub you’ll want to post on Facebook or email to the family! And there’ll be lots of people wanting to call and offer their congratulations. Don’t forget to put the phone on ‘silent’ so that it doesn’t wake you when you are trying to catch a few moments of precious sleep.
  • Pillow – Some women like to have their own pillow from home as they might sleep better.

Items for your partner (let’s say ‘he’)

  • Snacks – You may not feel like eating during labour, but he’ll need to keep his energy up throughout the marathon, so pack plenty of muesli bars, tuna and crackers, fruit, carrot sticks and hummus, sweets, juice or whatever else he likes.
  • Book/magazine – You may want something to distract him if there is downtime.
  • Camera – with spare battery and plenty of memory! You’ll be surprised at what you wanted photos of after the fact, so it is better to take more photos than less and delete later. Sometimes a kind midwife will take photos so your partner can concentrate on helping you.
  • Contact list – You’ll both be overwhelmed after childbirth, so having a list of people you’ll want to tell the good news to prepared in advance (and their phone numbers) is key.
  • Music – Ask the hospital if there is a way of plugging in your iPod/iPhone, or bring your own equipment. Labour can last hours and music can be a nice distraction. Have a few playlists ready (energetic songs, relaxing songs, songs that make you smile etc).
  • Swimmers – if he thinks he might want to get in the bath or shower with you for support. Midwives aren’t all that used to seeing naked men, so he’ll need to cover up!

Items for baby

  • Going home clothes – Depending on the season, this might include a singlet, onesie, socks, cardigan, mittens and a hat. Rule of thumb: babies need one more layer than we do.
  • Nappies – You’ll generally be given a few at the hospital, but it is good to have spares.
  • Blanket – Something to wrap your precious bundle in when you head out the door.
  • Special toy – if you want this. It may be nice to have your partner/bub’s sibling choose the first toy.

Phew! With all of this, I think you’re sorted! Remember, you only need the basics. If you’re staying in hospital for any length of time, your family and friends can top you up with additional clothes, food, or whatever else you need.

Best wishes for the big day!

Do you have any other ‘essentials’ or ‘non-essentials’ you’d like to add that helped you get through your hospital stay? Let us know in the comments section below.

More on giving birth and hospital stays…

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