Back when Billy was still a bump, I did a post about all the things I was packing in my hospital bag. As predicted, I used approximately 5% of the stuff I took, then ended up getting Neil to bring me another bag full of really useful stuff I’d conveniently forgotten. So, here’s what I should have packed, and what I just shouldn’t have bothered with…
Clothes for me:
- I packed nursing tops, bras, yoga trousers, socks, slippers and an array of granny pants in various sizes. What I didn’t consider was how ridiculously tropical the maternity unit would be, rendering all the long sleeved tops completely useless. I also shouldn’t have bothered with the nursing tops – breastfeeding is so flabbergasting at first that I had one, if not two, boobs completely out at any given point, usually with a maternity support worker frantically shoving my boob into Billy’s perplexed face. If I had my time again, I would have packed pants, bras, vests and yoga trousers, and not a lot else.
Other stuff for me:
- Toliletries bag: Was a godsend when you realise you haven’t brushed your teeth in 36 hours and your hair is still wet from being in the birth pool the day before (ewww). Just make sure it’s to hand in case you find yourself in a situation where you have misplaced the use of your legs and you’re so desperate for lipbalm that you’d be willing to do some jail time. Not that I’m speaking from experience or owt.
- Make up bag: Maternity wards are very good at not having any mirrors in, largely because everyone looks like a bag of crap. When I finally got to the bathroom the following day, I was shocked to find a pale, corpse-like figure with dark eyes staring back at me, not the glowy, rosy cheeked thing I was expecting. Blusher and concealer may not have made a difference to how ill I looked, but it made a massive difference to how I felt.
- Hairdryer and straighteners: Didn’t get used, although not for want of trying. It turns out if these aren’t PAT tested by the hospital, they don’t let you plug them in. They do have hairdryers on the wards, but good luck trying to get someone to bring you one.
- Arnica capsules and ointment: I took Arnica capsules in the few days immediately following the birth, and after 48 hours, the swelling and bruising had reduced to a point that I could comfortably sit on a chair again. I felt like the bruising healed quickly, but I really have nothing to compare it to in order to verify my findings, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The ointment on the other hand is still unused.
- Lanisoh nipple cream: This stuff is the bomb, as is Waleda Hypericum Calendula Ointment. Just be careful if you have any pale nursing bras, otherwise you may end up with grease stains right where your nipples are. It’s a strong look.
- Boppy breastfeeding pillow: This was on my list of things to take, but in the rush to get in the ambulance, it got left at home. Breastfeeding is HARD to start with, and it would have been mega useful to have this with me on the ward that first night.
- Breast pads: …Were a complete waste of time. My milk didn’t come in ’til day 3, and I’m still waiting for the kind of milk supply that would warrant needing a breast pad in the first place. One of the big draws to breastfeeding was that I was promised you would be able to use your boobs as impromptu waterpistols for situations like…I dunno… your husband pissing you off a bit. You could be all like BAM! Milk squirt, right in the chops. it would have been amazing. I feel a bit robbed of this superpower, TBH.
- Maternity pads: The hospital will give you these (hell, for the first few hours, they just plonk one between your legs sans undercrackers and let you get on with it), but the ones you buy are marginally more comfortable despite being the size of a breezeblock. For the first few days, the breezeblock-ness of the pads came in handy as a bit of extra padding, but after a week or so, I switched to normal sanitary towels.
- Eye Mask and Earplugs: I think it was very sweet that the pre-baby me didn’t see any problem with taking earplugs with me, despite the fact that this would mean I wasn’t able to hear my own baby. An eye mask, had I remembered it, would have been a blessing, especially after the woman in the bed next door kept her light on ALL NIGHT LONG.
- iPhone and charger: my ability to catch up on 48 hours worth of tweets at 4am probably saved the life of the stupid woman in the bed next to me as her BBM thing beeped for the 5,000th time that hour.
- Clothes: I put on my list ‘vest and babygrows in a range of sizes’. What I did not anticipate, however was that my offspring would be too large for any of the sizes I’d packed – cue a panicked call to my mum from the delivery room to ask her for some 0-3 month clothes.
- Scratchmitts: Since discovering that the extra flap on the cuff of baby grows is, in fact, a built in scratchmitt, I have no idea what separate scratch mitts are for. However, it’s worth checking your babygrows DO have this magic flap as babies (and especially overdue babies) are born with TALONS, and considering they don’t know they’ve got hands, they do a very good job at scratching their faces, making them look even more blotchy and puffy for their newborn photos.
- Hat: This was used for the drive home only and wasn’t needed on the ward due to the ward being hotter than actual hell.
- Blanket: this John Lewis blanket was a present from my friend Stef. It’s warm, cuddly and I wish they made them in grown-up sizes. We used it for the car journey home, and that was about it.
- Muslin cloths x2: These were good for using as a lightweight blanket, or just to keep you/baby from getting too sweaty through all the boob shoving (see above).
- Swaddle blanket: Some babies love it. Ours is not one of them.
- Nappies and baby wipes: They told me that I should be using cotton wool balls and water which perplexes me greatly. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a meconium poo knows full well that cotton wool balls and water is about as much use as a chocolate teapot when it comes to scary baby Marmite. I used the cotton wool balls they gave me until they walked out of the room, then went back to using Huggies Pure wipes. Guess what? Baby wipes didn’t melt his skin off, and they’re a damn sight more effective.
- Change of clothes, contact lenses, glasses, camera, Kindle, emergency Pot Noodle: None of these got used, but if I’d have had a different birth, or at a different time of day, they might.
- Chocolate muesli bars and chocolate hobnobs: got consumed (by me) in the loudest possible way at 3am. This was a little bit to piss off the woman in the next bed who, it seemed, was put on this planet to annoy me. It was also due to the fact that when my body got over giving birth, it realised it had about 24 hours worth of food to catch up on. In pregnant-lady-food-consumption terms, this probably equates to around four million calories.
What I should have packed:
- My own pillow
- 2ltr bottle of water – 40’C maternity wards and all that gas and air makes Kate a thirsty girl
- Snacks, snacks and more snacks.