As an avid list-maker ad packing enthusiast, my maternity hospital bag was of course packed and ready to go at leats 3 weeks before my expected due date. For one thing, I was obviously extremely excited. But I also didn’t want to go into spontaneous labour early and end up in hospital without all the things that make me feel most comfortable.I asked a few friends, did some online research and ultimately came up with a list of what I felt would be slightly more than just the essentials, but enough of what I needed for what might end up being a long delivery and a 3-5 night hospital stay.
In the end, my labour only lasted a couple of hours, and thanks to a safe and uncomplicated delivery, I only spent two nights in hospital. There were lots of things I didn’t end up using, like the Frida Delivery and Nursing Gown – which I didn’t even have time to fish out of my bag before August was out (in fact I just-just had time to step out of my Crocs and get naked before he was born). But they did make my stay in the recovery room much for comfortable.
*I actually ordered this Fridamom Labor and Delivery + Postpartum Recovery Kit and it came in so so handy! The gown is perfect for recovery.
Here’s my list of labour and delivery essentials for your hospital bag
* Swaddles: As it turns out, not all babies like swaddles. Mine actually didn’t, although he did seem to like the Love to Dream for a couple of weeks. It’s definitely a good idea to have a few options, to see which you and your baby like best. I had the Love To Dream, Meyco velcro and Babysense swaddles, but he prefers to sleep with his hands up by his ears, so he’s much more comfortable in a sleep sack (and he doesn’t wake himself when he startles)
*Travel flask: The Tommee Tippee bottle warmer was recommended by my friend Julia and I use it pretty much every day. It’s great for keeping hot or cold water with you on the go, or for using with cloths at nappy changes instead of wipes. I absolutely love the Pokkelokkie Wipey cloths – they are so much more environmentally friendly than single-use wipes and actually much nicer to use too. I keep them damp in the flask cup at the changing station and wash them with my nappies.
*Breast pump: Even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding (I was), it’s a good idea to take a breast pump to the hospital just in case it’s not as natural and easy as you think (talking to myself here). Pumping in the first couple of days after giving birth will help you to harvest colostrum, to feed to your baby with a spoon or medicine cup and can help bring your milk in (it’s normal for it to take 3-4 days to come in, but our paediatrician didn’t want to discharge me before mine came in, so I was trying to encourage supply). One very important consideration is the flange size, which makes a huge difference. Most pumps come with flanges in size 24mm, which is really big for a lot of people. My friend Kiersten gifted me her Spectra 1 with 15mm flanges and it took my milk output from about 80ml (using an entry-level Medela pump) to about 180ml in half the pumping time. I can highly highly recommend this pump, especially for those dealing with loadshedding, as it’s rechargeable. (Don’t forget the bottles! I bought this Tommee Tippee bottle and steriliser kit)
*H&M Maternity Tops: I have probably worn these more than anything else I own since my baby was born. They’re more convenient and comfortable than nursing bras and can be worn under a T-shirt to make it breastfeeding-friendly without exposing your whole tummy. I have 4 but wish I had bought more!
*Nipple shields: My baby also couldn’t latch onto the boob at the hospital, so the midwife suggested trying nipple shields, which made it possible. I only had VitalBaby size 24mm with me, which were way too big (I didn’t actually even know they came in different sizes), and sizing down to 16mm helped a lot. He’s 13 weeks old and I prefer the Medela ones now.
*Battery operated candles and fairylights: I planned on creating a zen birthing environment with my candles and my fairylights and my birthing playlist (I saved this one by Emma-Jane Harbour) BUT my baby came too quickly. However, they did make middle of the night feeding and changing much more cosy and comfy in the room.