Packing the hospital bag is one of the most tangible things you can do during bump watch. Buying the bits you need, checking and rechecking the list, packing and repacking as your due date approaches all help you feel like you’re actually doing something.
According to my highly-placed witnesses, first-time mums are bag packing maniacs, with everything ready-to-go from about 20 weeks. Experienced mums tend to be a bit more lackadaisical, with some only throwing the baby things together during early labour. It passes the time, sure.
I thought I was pretty prepared. I went on many a shopping trip to ensure I had everything in my hospital bag. I even visited a number of pharmacies trying to find the perfect massage oil for labour. (I came out with an incense burner).
The next time ’round however, my bags will look pretty different. Having experienced one hospital birth, the following items will definitely be on my list.
1 Soft baby blanket
This wasn’t on my hospital list. For some reason I thought; sure they’ve loads of blankets in the hospital. They may do, but they’re scratchy and woollen. Luckily I got a gift of a blanket in the hospital and would have been lost without it – great for swaddling during night feeds.
2 Magazines, baby books and a Kindle
I didn’t think I’d have any time to myself what with having a newborn, but the truth is babies tend to sleep a lot in hospital. Once the visitors had gone home, I found I was alone with a sleeping baby and no wifi or TV. I read my baby book, which offered lots of advice on the first few days and my Kindle. In fact, come to think of it, that was the last time I ever read my Kindle (babies don’t sleep so much when they come out of hospital).
3 Multi-Mam breast compresses
There was nothing on my hospital list for breast feeding pain relief. No preventative balms or shields and other paraphernalia. I’d heard it was painful, but didn’t quite realise how bad it would be. Multi-Mam breast compresses are one of the most soothing things known to breast-feeding Mam.
Pillows seem to be an accepted hospital currency. Sometimes they go missing. We ended up bringing in extra pillows from home to help make me comfy. You’ll also need them for supporting your arms while feeding.
5 Bridget Jones knickers
I thought I was doing great with my pile of super soft brand new knicks, but, I never took into consideration the geography of a C-section scar. The waistband of normal size knicks lands right on your new wound so you will need to resort to massive granny pants that come right up to your belly button. Bring some just in case; otherwise, you’ll be sending the hubby down to get lost in the lingerie department of Dunne’s Stores Father Ted style, and he won’t be happy.
6 Bed socks, cardi and PJs
The temperature fluctuated in hospital and it got really cold at night. Bed socks and a cardigan are a must. My hospital list instructed only nighties but if you’re staying in hospital for longer than a day or two, then pajamas can make you feel more comfortable.
Hospital food is not known for its Michelin rating. It’s also served on a strict schedule so if you miss mealtimes, you can end up hungry. I had visitors bring me in fresh fruit, drinks and sandwiches so that I could eat when I needed to. Next time, I’ll have some Percy Pigs packed. Just in case.