You never really know how your birth will pan out, with all the best intentions in mind. You could be in hospital for 5 hours or (like myself) – 5 days. I always think its better to have it and not need it than the other way around! So, from my experience of a long hospital stay ( with twins after a few hiccups ) – here are my suggestions on things to take with you for a few comforts during your time…
A new book and some magazines. You may be in for a long wait… and if like me you’re propped up in bed for a good few days post surgery, you may find a good book and some celebrity gossip can help pass the time during while the newborn(s) indulge in all those post feed naps.
Snacks (for your partner too!) Think fresh fruit, protein bars, dried fruit, chocolate treats! It’s no secret hospital food is no Michelin starred experience so some healthy bits to keep you going before and after are a must! I was relieved I had taken lots of dried figs, fresh fruit, nakd bards and chocolate to power me through those first few vulnerable post birth days.
Rescue Remedy. I can’t live without this, I find it can really help keep you grounded during those panic moments when you find yourself overwhelmed. Consider it an essential staple from here on in in fact.
Arnica. A natural remedy said to be helpful for bruising, useful to take before and after childbirth to help with discomfort. Make sure its brought from a reputable health store.
Floradix. I’m a huge fan of this delicious tasting supplement. A great way to keep your iron levels up, essential for expectant mummas and post birth blood loss alike in a way that won’t upset your digestion.
Vitamin C. To give your immune system a helping hand. Also said to be helpful with wound healing, again – buy from a trusted source. I really love Natures aid.
Phone charger – I took a battery powered one in case we weren’t allowed to use any plug sockets, you’ll want to document all those precious newborn moments and have some contact with the outside world.
Ipad – to help pass the time if you are spending long moments in bed pre birth or during naps. I found a few episodes of Friends whilst waiting for us to be called through for surgery helped keep my mood light if I felt anxious!
Headphones – to not disturb other parents if you’re on a busy ward.
Ear plugs – so other people on the busy ward don’t disturb you!
Eye mask – to help you doze in the daylight.
C section belt If you’ve never heard of one of these its basically like a soft protective shield you wear over pants to help cushion your c – section wound, this can help you feel a little more protected and less vulnerable. Also useful for once you arrive home if you have other enthusiastic little ones that like to tear around the house and bang into you unexpectedly. I used this one from Amazon.
Huge pants! Yes! Bring on the big pants! Just buy an old fashioned plain pack of some 2 or 3 times your normal size that will stretch over the c section scar in case you have one. Its also a good idea to take some disposable mesh style pants (sexy) for the first couple of days post birth when you may be losing a little more blood.
Dressing gown . For easy cover up when wandering around the ward once you are up and about, something soft and comfy in dark colours that’s cheap enough to discard after if you need to. Not fluffy though, those wards are hot, and well – night sweats are coming, just saying.
Yoga trousers. Those lovely comfy trousers that roll up over your belly, buy in black a size or 2 above your normal size depending on how much weight you’ve gained in your pregnancy. Comfy when you’re finally out of pjs and good for the drive home.
Vest tops and some plain loose tops. Again in a size or 2 too big for easy boob access with minimal faff! Loose tops come in handy if you need something to cover up any new bumpy bits.
Maternity / nursing bras. If you are planning on trying to breast feed, these are essential for – again, easy access! Also some loose sports bra type tops if you’ve decided to bottle feed as breast feeding or not, your boobs are going to feel tender in those early days regardless! For those not wanting to compromise on style, check out the beautiful designs at Hot Milk.
Formula and bottles. Now you may be set on breast feeding, which is great, but personally I felt better being ready for all eventualities. With my first born I was dead set on breastfeeding, so brought no bottle or formula equipment whatsoever. Unfortunately my first bundle of joy had other ideas and we struggled to feed so much we ended up back in nicu with an underweight hungry baby, which led me to expressing exclusively for the following 3 months. The whole thing completely wiped me out, I learnt the hard way. Now, every mother and situation is different and I truly believe there is no right or wrong way when it comes to bottle and breast, do what works and what feels right. And no you are ABSOLUTELY not a failure if you want to breast feed and can’t. With a seven year old son at home I knew in my realistic heart of heart’s that breastfeeding twins, after an early c section, with school runs to contend with, would have been very difficult for me and I decided to not beat myself up this time. We took everything in to hospital this time and had formula, a breast pump, bottles and a steriliser ready at home for any outcome. Our twins were whisked away on the first night due to post birth complications on my count and were bottle fed by the wonderful nurses anyway. Once reunited I let them suckle when they would and pumped what I was able for the first 6 weeks, but I was glad I took formula and bottles as we needed them – and I got to use the bottles I wanted and the formula I preferred. There’s no perfect way here, I just think being prepared takes some pressure and stress away for you.
Dummies. Again, no judgement! We found them a godsend.
Maternity pads. Now a word about maternity pads, if this is your first birth please don’t do the silly thing I did the first time I had a baby and took two (yes, just 2!) maternity pads into hospital with me. I foolishly had no clue about post birth blood loss and thought I would be leaving hospital a few hours after my planned water birth, obviously! Well suffice to say that didn’t happen, and we ended up in hospital for 3 nights after an emergency c section and those 2 maternity pads lasted about 30 minutes. Aim for 2 or 3 packs, which is much more sensible!
Notebook and pen. An obvious one, but often missed. This can be invaluable in your sleep induced haze to either record any important information from the doctors and midwives, or to keep a handy record of your baby(ies). If for some reason your baby doesn’t put on as much weight as the hospital would like (which happened with both of my births) it helps to have a record of how much formula they have had, or how long they breastfed for – and when, also how many wet nappies they have had. This gives the hospital a good indication if they are feeding enough. Often in your tiredness its hard to remember these things off the bat, its also quite cute to look back on when they are older, awwww.
A vanity bag! It helps to collect a few travel size toiletries for your birth, believe me that first shower – not matter how undignified, will seem like heaven! So pack a few basics to see you through and make you feel a little brighter, and if you feel the need (like me, no judgement!) some basic make up items to hide the fact you may not have slept for a few nights! Think concealer, tinted moisturiser and lip and cheek stain. Dry shampoo is an ESSENTIAL, as are hairbands, brush, toothpaste and toothbrush and lip balm.
A pillow. Again, not something you would often think of but not only can it give you a little home comfort, but if you have a c section – you can pop it under your seat belt on the car ride home for extra support. You can always leave it in the car for your partner to grab when needed if you are concerned about space.
Room spray and aroma rollers. No not your fabreeze kind, more the aromatherapy kind like this one from neals yard. These can help give you a little lift after and during labour, I love these roller essences which you can rub on your wrists when you need a restorative pick-me-up!
Now if you want a definitive list of what to bring for your new bundle of joy, here’s the list we went by (I took a few less clothes but I’ve added extra to this list as we had to ask relatives to get more). This list is for twins, so for single babies just half the list.
2 – 3 packs of muslin clothes.
Nappies – I’d say for newborns you need about 1 nappy every 4 hours so approx 5 a day. Estimate a hospital stay around your own personal circumstances – obviously longer for a planned c section and longer for twins. We were in for 5-6 days, so bear in mind if your birth may be premature, c section or otherwise when estimating your stay.
Wipes – 4-5 packets, nappy cream and nappy sacks.
Hats x 4. Its hard for newborns to regulate their temperature so they like to snuggle them up nice and warm.
Sleepsuits x 24. That sounds like ALOT I know, but this is a list for twins remember so half for just one baby. I’d say you change them at least twice a day – so 4 suits a day x a 5 night stay. Do your math.
Vests (short for summer, long sleeved for winter) x 24.
Scratch mitts – 1 pack
An outfit for the journey home, season depending!
2 – 4 cardigans if its quite cold or you get to take a stroll in the hospital gardens.
Coat for journey home if weather requires it.
2 cuddly toys for comfort (top tip, spend a few days before labour walking around with these stuffed down your top so they smell of you. This can then be very comforting for your newborn if they end up without you for any reason – like a NICU stay – or simply to have in the cot next to them if you need to rest.)
2 baby blankets, useful when they fall asleep on you and for the journey home.
Try and have your bag ready as soon as possible, you really never know whats going to happen, and if you do go into labour early it will be a huge weight off your mind knowing everything you need is packed and ready to go. You want to avoid any panic dashes around the house whilst trying to breathe through any contractions! Hope you find this list useful, do let me know if I’ve missed off any of your favorite birth bag essentials!