I’m now 38 weeks pregnant and the countdown is officially on! So much planning goes into having a baby, from conception up until delivery and beyond and being prepared is always easier said than done. Especially in the current climate of COVID-19 where everything is changing day-by-day, our planning is at the mercy of the change of the tides of this pandemic.
As my scheduled date draws closer, I’ve ticked off most things of my list of things to set up. By my 34th week or so, I had pulled out my breast pump and bottle steriliser and all bottles and accessories. The baby changing unit was set up since my 28th or 30th week and we washed all of the baby blankets and clothes and packed them into the changing unit organiser. The car seat has now been installed; the baby swing, bassinet/sleeper and baby mat will all be pulled out of our storage within the next week, if not once baby has arrived.
One thing I always seem to lag on, at least from my experience with Liam’s pregnancy, is the packing of my hospital bag. From other mothers journeys which I’ve followed and some who I’ve spoken to, the hospital bag is one of the first tasks they undertake. I suppose I think the time I give myself is sufficient, although with Liams pregnancy, I was sorely mistaken. Liam was due November 27th; I had planned to pack my bag on November 1st. My water broke late night of October 30th, alone, and I spent the first 30 mins of labour scrambling to pack my bag all while leaking amnoitic fluid . I mean, it could not have been more ill-timed.
Anyway, I’ve learnt from my past experience and although still not quite the early bird, I am happy to say my bag was fully packed and in the trunk of the car with 5 weeks to spare. Progress.
When it comes to packing your hospital bag, there are very specific items that I would consider absolute necessary in every bag, although contents vary depending on where you plan to give birth- hospital vs. birthing centre- and any other special requirements you and baby may require. In this current climate, many shared experiences indicate there are no lengthy hospital stays unless absolutely necessary so of course, the contents of your bag will be dependent on this. Here are my top 5 must- haves for your hopsital bag.
1. Hospital Notes
Every expectant mother would’ve received a folder where all the notes for your midwife visits, scans and any hopsital visits are recorded from the very beginning of your journey. It also contains important information such as your hospital/patient number and abnormal occurences on any visits that your on-call midwife and doctors may need to be aware of. The notes also have some useful leaflets on after-birth resources that you can take advantage of. I forgot my notes once at regular midwife visit and felt strangely anxious about all the missed information they could’ve provided or what went unrecorded for that visit. This is definitely top-of-the-list worthy to me.
2. Baby Clothes and Essentials
The next most important item you need to have are baby clothes and essentials.
Clothes– these will include at least two onesies- short-sleeved or long-sleeved depending on the season. You should also pack a sleeper or a footed onesie which generally also has long-sleeves and some versions even have attached mittens. Also, add at least two pairs of socks and a fitted hat. If you want you can also pack a separate outfit for going home in.
What’s in my bag?
Essentials– these will vary from bag to bag but generally include items such as newborn diapers, wipes and soaps and lotions. In most instances, these items will be provided at the hospital and your baby should receive a bath at some point after delivery and then presented to you in clean clothes. You may or may not stay long enough to have to use these items yourself but they’re still good to have just in case.
3. Nursing Gear
Whether you’re breastfeeding, expressing or formula-feeding, your supporting nursing gear is a must. Also, be prepared for your planned feeding preference to change once baby is born. You may be planning to breastfeed solely but that’s dependent on the babys latch, health, willingness or ability and some breastfeeding journeys do not begin or get into the full swing of things until a few days or even a few weeks post-birth. If you plan to breastfeed, you should have your nursing bra and nursing pads, keeping in mind your breast size may be larger than usual. Also, loose and accessible clothing will make your breastfeeding easier. If you want to bottle-feed, then pack at least two bottles equipped with Level 1 (newborn/slow-flow) nipples and your breast pump. I had a manual breast pump for my first pregnancy but have opted for an electric breastpump this time around due to the ease and convenience of the hands- free feature and varying suction controls. If you plan to formula feed, walk with your preferred formula. However, if you’re not certain about this, many hospitals have formula on hand that you can offer and possibly continue to use if well-received by your baby.
What’s in my bag?
4. Maternity Pads/Underwear
After delivery, there may be significant bleeding known as lochia. Your womb sheds this to replace your lining after birth. Think a period, but on steroids. Depending on your body, this can last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks and even longer. Maternity pads are better than regular sanitary pads as they are often larger, longer, softer and more absorbent. If the idea of maternity pads don’t appeal to you, disposable maternity underwear is also an option. They may provide more comfort and are super convenient to use, too. Opt for high-waisted mesh ones in the event of C-section as they will allow your scars to breathe easier.
What’s in my bag?
5. Comfy clothes
Last but not least, make sure you have some comfortable clothes for your journey home. Your body would’ve been through a lot and the last thing you want is to be stuffed into tight, inaccessible clothing. Also, make sure you have some maternity tops which allow you easy access to breastfeed on the journey home if need be.
No matter what your delivery journey has in store for you, make sure your packed bag caters to all of your hospital stay needs. Delivery is a daunting and intimidating step in the pregnancy journey and once you have overcome this, your life will truly have changed. As with everything, starting with a smooth, organised foundation will better prepare you for any thing that may change. When it comes to packing your baby bag remember the most important tip: Don’t overwhelm yourself.
Bring along just what you think you’ll need.