Everything but the kitchen sink…..
Every single woman has the drama of what to pack for a weekend away, a business trip or a holiday. So when you have to pack for a hospital trip, knowing you’ll be leaving with a new tiny human, the question of what to pack becomes even more stressful.
Think of it as a ‘Go Bag’ (yes, like the FBI)…. It should have the essentials and enough inside to tide you over for a couple of days. Bringing two suitcases full of your worldly belongings and the car seat before you have even been admitted is a waste of time and energy for you and to be honest… they get in the way in the room (Yes I have almost hit the deck falling over patients belongings and yes i’m slightly bitter about it).
So here is a comprehensive list for the hospital bag for the family:
Documents (I advise both mum and dad keep copies of these things on your e-mail, you never know when you’ll need them and only one of you may be present at time of admission):
Insurance card (if applicable)
Money for deposit (if cash paying)
Copy of marriage certificate (for my UAE ladies)
Antenatal Notes (Mums please ALWAYS keep these on you)
Underwear: lots of either disposable or cheap as you WILL use them)
Maternity Pads: NOT Always ultra, but the massive almost nappy like ones that look like they could hold half an oceans volume of fluid! Most hospitals charge for these so its advised you save some $ and bring your own.
Clothing for labour: If you have a nightie or shirt or whatever you wish to labour in then bring that. be prepared for it to get a bit messed up.
Bikini/Sports Bra: Advised if you are wishing to have a water birth. Not all women like to be naked in the pool.
Clothing for after delivery: Pyjamas, dressing gown, leggings, workout clothes. Anything stretchy and easy for breastfeeding access.
Toiletries: I mean all of them, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser, face cream. Most of these are provided in miniature but aren’t particularly good quality and having your own things can help you feel refreshed and a little more yourself.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Laptop (For Netflix), a book, phone charger!
Snacks for labour and snacks for afterwards in-between hospital meal times. Bring prepared meals if it is your desire. If you know you have something nice to eat then you’ll be much happier than when the hospital plonk a tray of unidentifiable food in front of you.
Pillow: Home comforts help. They are from your own environment, that you associate with relaxed and happy feelings. Also, hospital pillows aren’t comfortable. Simple as.
Birth ball: Most places have these now, but just double check first, if they do not then bring your own.
A change of clothes & toiletries: you may not want to leave your family, but you’ll probably have been there a while… so, take the necessary steps to avoid smelling like you’ve been unwashed for 3 days.
Snacks: You face being in the hospital for a good while, especially if you are having your first baby, or you are being induced. So pack healthy snacks, sweets, chocolate, coffee sachets, electrolyte drinks. The works. I had some patients bring meal prep once (My kinda people!).
Entertainment: Again, laptops for netflix, books, phone and charger. If you say you weren’t bored for a millisecond at least once, then i don’t believe you. These will help distract you from clock watching too!
Pillow: You may want a nap, if there is the opportunity, don’t take for granted that we’ll have a spare pillow for you. Be ready to get comfy with your own belongings, in case the hospital can’t provide you with any.
Baby Wipes or cotton wool
8 Baby grows
Mittens: nowadays these are usually incorporated in to the baby grow sleeves. If not, bring some, newborns get scratchy!
Hats: Most hospitals are air conditioned and the temperature is controlled by a little guy sat on the other side of the hospital. Whilst it isn’t advised putting hats on babies to sleep at home you can do this in hospital.
Baby blankets: Most hospitals use towels to wrap baby, so bring a couple of blankets.
Going home outfit: Everyone has one but you can bring this later prior to discharge.
Car Seat: bring on day of discharge.
Baby toiletries: If you want to use baby bath you can bring it (it isn’t recommended because really, babies don’t get dirty). Coconut oil/Olive oil is recommended for moisurising your baby’s skin.
For the Midwife:
Diamonds, cold hard cash, gin…. or more realistically a couple of biscuits or a chocolate bar. You’d be surprised how this helps us along when you are midway through a 12 hour shift. People will laugh at this and think i’m joking… We are generally happier when our patients see us, see our hard work, our short staffed ward and just want to put a little smile on our face when we miss our coffee breaks.
A thank you: We don’t do our job for presents. We actually like it most when someone genuinely just says 'Thank You' if they have felt supported by us.
So to conclude, keep it simple, don’t pack things ‘in case’. Your other half can always pop home and pick things up. The less you bring the less you have to concern yourself with when packing up to move rooms, or remember to take home. Minimal stress is the key here. Oh and don’t trip your midwife up with all your stuff lying around your room.