As lots of you know by now, Effie and Sophie, the Sleep Thief founders, met on an antenatal course before the birth of their little girls. When preparing to go to hospital for their births, things were a little bit different for each of them! Effie enjoys a bit of 'wooky' (as her husband likes to say), whereas Sophie is more logical (and practical), and so you'll see this reflected in their choices for their hospital bag must-haves.
So, whether you're a hippy-esque Hannah or a straight-laced Susan, here is the most comprehensive hospital bag list you will ever find!
"Being my usual, casual self, I did not prepare a hospital bag at 36 weeks, as was advised in our NCT class. Instead, as the due date crept ever nearer and my irrational fear of giving birth grew bigger, I completely ignored packing it. However, some of my lovely friends gave me a brilliant wash bag filled with holiday size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, moisturiser, etc, which was for my hospital bag. At last the inevitable day had arrived, where I had to admit defeat and pack the bag. So, I went into hospital and in my bag I packed….
- A sports water bottle – essential for rehydration and one where not too much effort to extract water was needed.
- A bag of jelly babies – my husband packed these, “If they’re good enough at providing energy to the England Rugby team during a match, they should be good enough for you during labour.”. How right he was. These were one of the best things we brought with us. I was pretty nauseous during my labour and couldn’t keep much food down, so the little sugar energy hits these gave me got me through all the pushing…
- A pair of loose pyjama bottoms – to wear post birth whilst hanging around in hospital.
- A loose, soft, comfy button up shirt – for easy access to boob and generally hanging around in hospital.
- A zip up hoody – it can get quite chilly during the night and, again, the zip allows for easy access.
- Nursing bra – no explanation necessary!
- Comfortable knickers – these should ideally be old or cheap and should not fit too tightly.
- Maternity pads – these are one of the things that you only discover that you need well into your pregnancy, once you are really locked into the process. They are not glamorous but, most definitely, are necessary.
- My kindle – its screen lights up so it was great for reading at all times of day and night without being too disruptive. This continued to be useful during night feeds when I didn’t want to wake hubby up.
- My wash bag with all essentials – you never know how long you may be required to stay in hospital so best to be prepared.
- Slippers – for shuffling around hospital.
- A big fluffy towel – I was lucky enough to have a room in the midwife ward and was able to have a shower in peace. It was so lovely having a big fluffy towel to wrap up in when I was still feeling a bit delicate!
- My glasses – as a steadfast contact lens wearer, I barely ever wear my glasses, however, during labour I completely binned off my vanity and firmly embraced glasses wearing, even though mine are ancient and don’t suit me!
- 5 x baby vests, 5 x long sleeve vests and 5 x sleepsuits – These are fairly self-explanatory but even for the less than 24 hours I was in hospital, we went through a fair few! Our zipped babygrows are ideal for this as they are quick to take on and off and the footens can be folded back for heel prick tests.
- Baby hat – to keep your little one warm in hospital.
- Cellular blanket – to use in the hospital cot.
- Muslins – these are great for absolutely everything; mopping up sick, drying tears, wiping up spilled tea… You name it, a muslin can sort it. I actually wonder how I survived life before without these and I don’t know why they are reserved only for people with children.
- Nappies – it is a good idea to take a fair few of these as newborns go through a lot of them!
- A baby going home outfit – because you really want something cute for them to wear when you take the obligatory leaving-the-hospital photo.
- Pram suit – my daughter was born in January so we had a really snuggly suit for the journey home.
- Car seat – we didn’t take this into hospital with us, however, because I was in overnight, my husband was able to bring it in the next morning so we could take a taxi home.
For birth partner
- Money – just in case you need to buy something from the hospital shop or want to bet on how many balloons the excitable couple a few rooms down will receive over the course of their stay.
- Phone and headphones – I cannot tell you how many photos I took of my daughter in the first few hours of her life, and it has pretty much continued for the following two years! I took my headphones too because I wanted to be able to listen to music or an audio book while I was breastfeeding as it was comforting during the early hours of the morning."
"For my first birth, I was set on having a water birth at home. However, as things panned out, my daughter decided to have meconium and so it was off to hospital for us. I had, in a slight panic, already packed a hospital bag and actually put quite a lot of effort into it! I'm not sure when I packed it, but I think it was around 38 weeks. I had some really great hospital bag lists from my antenatal course as well as my hypnobirthing course, so I felt covered! One tip I have is to pack your hospital bag with your birth partner so they know where everything is too. I wanted to go down the most natural, drug-free route as possible. So, I went into hospital and in my bag I packed...
For Labouring Me
- Flannels - nice fluffy ones which could be wet and put on my neck and head by my hubby.
- My hypnobirthing tracks and headphones - I was really big on hypnobirthing and found it really helped!
- A big, baggy t-shirt - for wandering round the room comfortably (animal noises optional...).
- My labour playlist and speaker - yup, I made a labour playlist. Nice and calming, with a few 'gee me up' tracks sprinkled in between.
- Water bottle with a straw - like Soph, this was essential for me, and the straw meant my hubby could just stick the bottle in my mouth for ease.
- Snacks - some energy balls and chocolate were perfect for me.
- A face spritzer and some lip balm - just for some sort of pampering!
- A thick headband and bobbles - there's nothing more annoying than your hair in your face when you're feeling hot and bothered.
- Natural remedies - Soph will laugh at me for this one, but I had a homeopath prescribe me remedies for different parts of labour. Another comfort!
- A few copies of my birth plan/preferences - not that my birth went to plan, but it was good to have them printed off for the midwife to work with.
For the Hospital Environment
As hypnobirthing is all about creating a calm and comfortable environment, I made sure to pack the following things that made me feel more at home:
- Battery-operated tealights/fairy lights - I just wanted it to look a bit magical when the lights were dimmed!
- An essential oil diffuser and essential oils - lavender was really calming for me, but I also chose to take jasmine as it reminds me of my grandma and so I thought it would help with a nice oxytocin release.
- Room sprays - my 'wookiness' here prevails (queue Sophie's laughter!). I took an energy cleansing spray as well as a heart chakra spray!
For Post-Labour Me
- A fluffy towel - like Sophie, I was able to have a shower. An amazing fluffy towel was just what I needed after that experience!
- Indulgent toiletries - I actually went out and bought some quite expensive body wash, body oil, face wash and face oil as a real treat.
- Fluffy socks - I'm not a great slipper fan, so I shuffled around hospital in some really comfy socks.
- Nursing bras - like Sophie, no explanation needed!
- Organic maternity pads - I would only recommend organic maternity pads. After the shock your vagina has just been through, I'm not sure it needs to be subjected to chemicals and nasties!
- Reusable breast pads - I had some organic bamboo pads which were really comfy and good for the environment too.
- A 'down-there' spritz - I was recommended a tincture by my homeopathy, but there are some great midwife-recommended sprays out there which provide a bit of relief.
- Massive knickers - you just want to be as relaxed as possible, so go big on the knicky-knacks! Also take a few pairs and in a nice breathable material.
- Easy clothes for breastfeeding - see all Sophie's points above.
- A comfortable going-home outfit - baggy t-shirt and leggings anyone?
Sophie's list covers almost everything. The only things I would add/reiterate are:
- A Sleep Thief Mischiefsuit - organic cotton and easy zip access make newborn life so much easier. Buy them here at www.sleepthiefbaby.com.
- A little bottle of olive oil - this was recommended by my hypnobirthing teacher. It helps getting that first, sticky, black poo off (especially if you rub a little bit on your baby's bottom and lower back first).
For Birth Partner
- Phone charger and phones - I put Paul in charge of all of this. I didn't want to be distracted by my phone (including annoying 'any update?' text messages) during labour!
- My hypnobirthing notes - for Paul to read to me during labour.
- Trunks for the birthing pool - not that we used the pool, but I quite liked the idea of him joining me (I'm not sure he did!).
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant - we didn't know how long we would be in hospital so a bit of freshening up was welcome.
- Cash - please read Sophie's hilarious explanation for this!
- Champagne - not that I felt like drinking any, but it was nice to know we had something there to celebrate.
- Placenta encapsulation items - oh yeah, I did it. I encapsulated my placenta. I had to take some tupperware, a freezer bag and ziplock bag to hospital. Ask my husband to tell you about his bus journey home with my placenta. It'll make you giggle."
So that’s it, our combined essentials that we packed in our bag. Obviously everyone is different and we are bound to have missed things that are a must for other people. But hopefully there is something on there that you’ll find useful and please let us know what essentials you think we’ve missed!