BIRTH BAG PACKING
Bring lots of stuff
The main things I learnt were that Daddy needed a sleeping bag, sweets were handy and the NHS is fantastic. I chose to bring two birth partners to the hospital, Daddy and Granny, which made a great team. The staff treated them well.
My pregnancy was 'very low risk', but the birth became an 'emergency'. I was glad of all the natural water birth preparation I did, but especially glad once I had an epidural.
A lot of emphasis is put on having the perfect birth. Baby's life since birth has been much more noteworthy and character forming. I think we've mostly forgotten how they came into the world as we're just grateful they're here.
BIRTH BAG PACKING
There is a long time before the drugs become available so...
Labour and Birth Box- aromatherapy gift set
Hypnobirth book or class notes
Massage: suitable aromatherapy for pregnancy, handheld massager
A TENS machine
Birth stool or ball and pump if the hospital doesn't have. I found this good for putting baby to sleep later.
One thing I didn't try is a rebozo
Extra pillows or even duvet
Floor mat (I think we decided there wasn't space for all this in the bag, or even in the room)
Partner’s swimming gear for water birth/ your own bikini top if preferred
Be prepared to take drugs as well after all this...
Who you're gonna call
Your birth plan, hospital notes and pen. Have a plan B noted as well, and be prepared to follow neither plan.
Your hospital, midwife or doula’s phone number (the best phone number to contact the hospital in an emergency or routine labour)
Your partner or birth partner’s phone number
Your own hospital reference number, which is on your card or notes (you will be asked for this when you phone in)
Phone number for a taxi company which accepts people in labour
Car seat instruction video to the ready.
Contact details for breastfeeding support services.
Links to breastfeeding videos or images in case you want to refresh your memory. Do not expect help from the hospital, in my experience it would have been better not to ask.
If I had my time again, I might note: feeds, nappies and sleeps on an app while staying in hospital. This is purely so as I could answer questions from staff. I wouldn't do it at home.
Torch app, or just a torch- handy for night feeds or when tumbling around for a light switch
Relaxation music/ hypnobirth/ guided mediation or breathing/ Abba etc
Any medications you are taking
Healthy snacks- I enjoyed being fed sugar-free gummy bear sweets after labour. At other times I had bars or dried fruit, since they are easily packed and held in bed. (Try Greenbay or TheVeganKind vegan supermarkets).
Drinks/ water. We brought containers to fill there. A sports bottle or travel cup/ flask with straws, and small change for snack machine. You can also buy bamboo straws - these are helpful when drinking in funny positions. Before and since I have seen no need for straws.
Find out about hospital food beforehand. Saying that, I was assured there were vegan and gluten free options but it didn't always work out that way.
Breast pads. Our washing machine was broken by a reusable breast pad. They quickly become a hassle but are handy at the start when you would have to keep changing clothes otherwise.
A couple of packets of super-absorbent sanitary or maternity pads. You will be amazed how many you can get through.
Towels- I don't think we brought a towel- check what is there beforehand
A fan/ water spray/ flannel to cool you down
Earplugs and sleep-mask to use if birth partner is awake. I don't remember needing these. I think I was tired enough and couldn't walk to my bag anyway.
Bed pads for if waters break at home prior to birth, or for after birth (when there could still be blood, sweat and milk everywhere). Ours became a mat to go under the changing mat.
5 or 6 pairs of knickers – some sources also suggest disposable ones
Bin bag for dirty clothes
'Something loose and comfortable to wear during labour that doesn’t restrict you from moving around or make you too hot (a nightdress or large t shirt), plus about 3 changes of clothes.' This was on the list, but I was actually given a flappy thing to wear.
2 or 3 comfortable and supportive bras, including nursing bras- fittings are suggested for these since your size changes. (I have actually ended up preferring stretchy bamboo crop tops.)
Front-opening or loose-fitting nighties or tops for breastfeeding, For breast feeding more generally, I have have found wrap-over or low cut tops to be convenient in the day time, and pyjamas which gape at the top for night (I think they are called Grandad collars). It turns out Baby doesn't like specially designed feeding clothes or a hoiked up shirt.
Dressing gown and slippers/ flip flops/ socks- feet can get cold in labour
A loose, comfortable outfit to wear home. (You will still be fat as you lose stomach muscle)
Daddy said he should have brought more clothes for himself, as he felt a bit yucky after staying up for such a long time wearing the same thing in the chilly ward. (I was in hospital for three nights.)
Sleeping bag or plenty of blankets for birth partner. Daddy got a cold 'sleeping' on a chair. The two blankets we brought were insufficient. There were not the pillows and blankets as we were led to believe, and the chair wasn't really a recliner. I think I slept in my dressing gown.
Hats- Midwives we met had alternating very strong opinions for or against hats.
An outfit for going home in- a pram suit if it is cold
Plenty of nappies (I advise disposable) and cotton wool, or whatever you are going to use. Hospitals seem to prefer bringing cotton wool to wet wipes, but you have to look for the water and container yourself.
A shawl or blanket
Muslin squares (we didn't really use these, except later to put on Baby's head to make them sleep)
A car seat for the trip home- revise how to use this and have instructional video to the ready on your phone
Nail clippers or babygrows with mittens- our baby was born with talons and a scratched face
If you definitely plan to bottle feed- formula, bottles, cleaning soap and a flask of hot water. Breastmilk takes a few days of constant sucking to come in, and would be curtailed by introducing formula.
Post partum handy things
A rubber ring to sit on and relieve pressure on stitches
Cranberry juice- for an immunity boost
Arthritis cream- handy when stuck lying in funny positions
Straws- can help drinking in funny positions
Flask- can keep drink warm while you forget to drink it
More maternity pads