So, you have prepped for birth, you have a solid birth plan, a super informed and supportive birth partner, you have hopefully taken a fab antenatal course like ours…. And now you are starting to thing about some of the practicalities… starting with, what do you actually need to take with you in your hospital bag.
TOP TIP 1: Make sure your birth partner has unpacked and repacked your bag… you don’t want have them rummaging around clueless to find your lip balm while you are mid labour.
TOP TIP 2: Pack separate bags for you, your birth partner and your baby. That way everything is clear and its easier to find things. And your birth partner can have their own snack situation so they don’t have to break into yours.
What we are mainly digging into here, are those items that are going to help boost oxytocin (the more the better) and actually help your labour progress. Yes, you will need pants, a toothbrush, nappies etc, but what items can actually help you and your birth partner throughout your birth journey? So, lets break it down shall we?
Your birth plan (and an informed partner who can advocate for you and make sure your wishes are respected throughout)
Your maternity notes
This is an important one. The more comforting, homey smells, textures the better! Optimising your environment for birth is going to help keep your oxytocin high (as well as endorphins, yes please natural pain killers!)
Your own pillow from home
Fairy lights or battery-operated tea lights
A massage tool & massage oil
A hairbrush or comb - if you find having your hair brushed relaxing, if not forget it
A good quality eye mask – to block out the light and boost melatonin and therefor oxytocin, this one is great
Earplugs – in case you need to get a bit of rest
Your own comfy clothes – no need to wear a scratchy hospital gown unless you want to
Aromatherapy products – hopefully you have been practicing relaxing with your fave smells and they have created a trigger for you to stay nice and calm. Just a few drops of essential oil on a flannel can be lovely.
Affirmations – maybe you can make yourself a little mood board with affirmations, a scan photo, other happy time photos to boost oxytocin and give you a focus
Fan with water spray
A cooling flannel – to keep your head cool if you’re feeling a bit clammy, you can get special sports ones that stay cold that are fab
Headphones to listen to your hypnobirthing mp3’s or relaxing music
TENS machine – if you have decided to use one
Birth ball – if your chosen location has not got any
These might be particularly useful if you are going in to be induced, which can often take a few days so patience is key!
A tablet with goodtime films and TV shows
A good book
A phone charger
Knitting. If you like to knit.
You need that snack game to be ON POINT. Eating and drinking through labour is key to keeping energy levels and strength up. You wouldn't run a marathon with no food or water on board...birth is just the same.
Flapjacks or other oaty treats
Dried fruit – dates, mango, apricots etc
Sachets of honey
Bananas or other fruit
Peppermint or ginger tea bags
Basically, anything you think you might fancy
And don’t forget plenty of water in a bottle and a straw so you can easily drink without getting out of your birthing zone!
Lip balm – Gas and air/ all that deep breathing can dry out your lips
Hair tie – and a spare
PJ’s that are easy to breastfeed in
Light dressing gown – it’s always baking in hospital
Bikini if you want a water birth
Baggy t- shirt
Many pants - Big comfy ones. Don't bother with the disposable ones, they are grim
Large maternity pads - and some witch hazel to pop on them to sooth your post birth perineum
Breast pads – You can get lovely soft reusable ones now
Nipple cream - Lasinoh is a real fave
Your little on really needs very little! Definitely focus more on your own comfort, all baby REALLY needs is you, milk from a boob or bottle and a safe place to sleep.
5 x sleep suits- maybe few different sizes as you don’t really know how big they are going to be when they come out
A swaddle if you are planning on swaddling
Many, many muslins
5 x vests depending on time of year
Pram suit depending on time of year
A hat – for when you go out to the car (unless your baby is unwell or premature, please keep its head free of hats! It interferes with oxytocin and bonding.)
This probably seems like loads of stuff, of course it is just a general guide so take from it what you will and make the rest your own! The great thing is that even if you are giving birth on the labour ward you can use some of these tricks to make a birth friendly and comfortable environment. If you are planning a home birth, still pack yourself a bag like this just in case of a transfer, that way you can still take all your oxytocin friendly bits and bobs with you if you need to make a move!
We talk about optimising your birth environment (wherever that may be) as well as the practicalities of birth on our Hypnobirthing course, as well as filling your toolbox up with incredible techniques to help you manage labour as a team. If you want to find out more get in touch.