22 December 2010

Packing your bag for a trip like no other

There comes a time, in every pregnancy, when you realise that the little being growing inside you, has to come out. I know it seems obvious, but most women have that moment of fear. With most women choosing to give birth in a hospital, the time when you decide to pack for your trip to hospital truly cements the realisation that you will soon become a parent. 
Daniel, Layla and I in hospital - Day 1
Packing for hospital is not like packing for a holiday but rather is like packing for a career change. There are certain clothes, tools and equipment that will be necessary to make your stay comfortable and successful. Here are my tips for what to take to hospital:
  • Clothes - in most cases, you are not going to hospital because you are unwell. As such, there is no need to spend the days of your stay in your pyjamas. I remember when my Mum had my youngest sister Michelle. In those days, women spent their days in bed in their nighties. Oh how things have changed! Take enough changes of clothes for at least one fresh change per day. A couple of extra pairs of pants and tops may be needed especially if you accidentally leak during the day. Pick soft and comfy clothes that you can sleep in during the day if you get a chance to have a nap;
  • Underwear - you'll need more than one change of undies per day. Given the bleeding that occurs after birth, it's best not to take your best lacy lingerie. Much better to take some cheap, plain, black and comfy undies that can be discarded if they get stained;
  • Bras - as your milk comes in, your breasts will change. If you intend to breastfeed, you'll need a feeding bra where the bra cups can be dropped down for feeding. Getting the size right can be tricky. It may be best to take a half top style feeding bra that is comfortable to sleep in and feed in. I picked up a cheaper one from Target as well as an Elle Macpherson Maternelle bra that were really comfortable in the early days. Once your milk comes in, you may need to purchase a bra more suited;
  • Pads  - you'll need to bring sanitary pads with you. Choose the thicker maternity style pad which will offer padding if you end up having to have stitches. Bring a couple of packets with you. You should also bring some breast pads with you;
  • Toiletries - don't ask me why but I packed toiletries as if I was going on a resort holiday. Needless to say, I never got a chance to give myself a full facial! Pack the things that will make you comfortable during your stay. Most women don't wear perfume in hospital due to the sensitivity of your baby's nose and not wanting to mask your smell that the baby will come to know. Remember to take some Lansinoh with you for your nipples. Earplugs are also a good idea if you want to get some rest in a noisy shared room;
  • Slippers  - slippers are a good idea to wear around the ward. Thongs would also do;
  • Pyjamas - bring pyjamas that you can breastfeed in. There is nothing glamorous about having to strip off in a hurry to feed your crying baby in the middle of the night. Button through tops are convenient as are pyjama pants and a feeding singlet or maternity nighties like the ones sold by Loveable or Hot Milk;
  • Feeding singlets - these singlets have an inbuilt bra or support with drop down cups. They are great when you are learning to feed and are comfortable to wear without a bra either for sleep or in the early days. I swear by the Loveable Maternity Essentials range;
  • Labour bag - you may want to pack a separate bag for labour that includes snacks, stress balls, clothes to wear (like a big t-shirt), music, essential oils and camera. I also had some amazing socks from my friend Susan. They kept my feet warm as the room was heavily air conditioned and had rubber soles, great for gripping when pushing;
  • Camera and phone - to capture those precious moments;
  • Coming home - clothes for you and the baby to come home in are important. The first time I dressed Layla in her own clothes rather than the hospital nighties was a really special moment;
  • Pen and Paper - always comes in handy;
  • Panadol  - even though you are in hospital and there are plenty of drugs on hand, having your own stash of panadol comes in handy when things get busy in order to ensure you maintain some level of pain medication all the time;
  • Watch/Clock - you'll want and need to write down when you feed your new baby in the early days. Knowing what the time is at different times of the day and night is important. You can use your phone if you prefer;
  • Names list/book - if like us, you don't have names picked out, you may need to have further discussions once bubs arrives.
Leave me a comment if I have forgotten anything. Best to have your bag packed at least 4 weeks out from your due date. Personally, I left it to the last minute. Probably was due to my disbelief that I was about to have a baby!

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