Hospital Bag Essentials for Mum

Pilates, Epping, Pregnancy, Ante Natal

When it comes to most asked questions from pregnant participants in my ante natal Pilates classes, ‘what should I pack in my hospital bag?’ is up there.

I don’t think you can ever have enough advice from women who’ve been there regarding what you’ll actually need when baby finally decides to make an appearance.

Yes, take your hospital bag list from your ante natal class, it’s probably got the essentials on there for baby and for you (stuff like giant sanitary pads and nappies) but I also quizzed my experienced mums on what was vital in their hospital bags and here were the top 10 the answers:

  1. A fan
  2. Arnica tablets
  3. Glucose/Dextrose tablets
  4. Flapjacks
  5. Tens machine
  6. Hair ties
  7. Lip balm
  8. Crunchie Bars
  9. Straws
  10. A reflexologist!

Food and Drink

In general I always recommend my ante natal participants have the sort of food in their hospital bag that they can eat when they feel a bit sick. So think of the foods to can eat when you’ve got a monster hangover (remember those days?) or you’re recovering from a tummy bug (lots of those to come your way once your little one starts germ sharing). For me it’s hula hoops, crackers or bananas.

You’ll probably feel pretty queasy during labour, it’s one of the signs. Staying hydrated and nourished will help you with birth. If you go into ketosis (a sign your body is seriously depleted of energy) your natural birthing options seriously diminish. Believe me. This is what happened to me. And it’s why during my second labour I nibbled on bananas and oat biscuits even though I felt horribly sick. It worked though. I was still pretty dehydrated and downed a carton of coconut water after they’d finished fiddling with me post birth (which then also made me feel sick) but it definitely helped my recovery and to have the natural birth I’d wanted.

Do make sure that as well as food for labour, you have some snacks for after birth in your hospital bag, when hopefully you’ll feel much more like eating and quite probably be ravenous. The same goes for drinks. Have some rehydrating drinks in there.

And of course ensure that your other half is well stocked on provisions. My friend’s husband disappeared off for a sandwich only to return to the labour ward as his partner was being rushed off to theatre. Make sure they have supplies and therefore no excuses to leave you. Everything can change in minutes during labour. Be prepared! Perhaps suggest that your other half has their own hospital bag.

Tens machine

The jury’s out on these but most women I know who’ve used them have said at the very least they are a welcome distraction and communicate to those around you that you are having a contraction. The very focused pressing of a button, gripping onto the machine and staring intently as the seconds tick by are universal signs to the world that there is a ‘woman having a strong contraction who isn’t one for talking much during pain’! That was me. A silent labourer.

The Tens machine provides an electrical stimulus, like a tingling pressure. It’s fantastic for helping to relieve the pain of contractions. It sort of matches the pressure of the contraction.

I didn’t have a Tens machine during my first labour but given the I’d had a back to back labour first time round, I’m not sure it would have helped much. With number two, I managed to cope with deep breaths and distractions (I left Chris in bed and went downstairs to nibble a banana and patchwork a teddy) until around 4am, at which point I woke Chris up briefly to help with the pads before heading back downstairs to continue labouring on with the help of a button and more little bits of material.

The Tens machine was really useful until we got closer to the business end. I can remember having contractions in hospital and not even feeling the Tens machine or not realising it was still on boost. It was at this point I got by on sheer determination.

Just a friendly note on this though, I would recommend figuring out how it works before you go in to labour. Foolishly I didn’t really think about this. Fortunately one of my friends recommended I got to grips with it the last time I saw her, which happened to be the afternoon before I went into labour that evening.

Organising your bag

So once you’ve got everything you can humanly need ready to go into your bag, you do need to consider carefully how you pack it. This might sound a bit patronising but I’ll never forget Chris rummaging through my bag (boy looking) during the last phases of my labour for my arnica tablets. The midwife was stridently advising that I get those tablets and start taking them NOW even before the head had done the worst of the birthing damage. She clearly had some inkling as to the amount of bruising I was sustaining to my fandango.

Whilst YOU might know where everything is in your bag, labour and birth is a time in your life when there’s a good chance you’ll need to direct others to the contents of your bag. Again. Imagine the times in your life when you feel really rotten with sickness or flu. That’s kind of how it feels for the worst parts of labour, when you really won’t want to be rummaging through your bag for that hair tie or cracker. Make sure you know where everything is!

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