Secret fact that only mums know: lots of the things that you’re encouraged to think about and plan and obsess over while pregnant are all a big ruse. Picking the right pram (real talk: all prams are basically the same and all basically annoying), spending hours constructing a birth plan and packing the hospital bag are all just distractions to help you feel a tiny bit in control of something that’s fundamentally uncontrollable.
That said, planning and packing and unpacking and packing your hospital bag again is a good use of time when you’re waiting to pop. Some of the stuff that goes in might even get used. Here’s what you need. Oh, and “hospital bag” is misleading – you’ll probably end up taking a wheely suitcase, two hold-alls and three bags for life spilling out with crap.
A laptop or tablet with pre-downloaded entertainment (do not spunk your phone data on Netflix!) in case you’re in for the long-haul. The trashier the better – now is not the time for hard-hitting Danish dramas.
Headphones. So that the whole maternity ward doesn’t need to know that you watch Geordie Shore. And so that you don’t have to involuntarily eavesdrop on the woman in the next bay’s annoying mother in law.
Phone charger. On the off-chance that you want to send people the odd photo of THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD.
Hair ties. Otherwise you may find yourself screaming that you want to shave your head immediately.
Flip flops, sliders or slippers. Base your decision on the season, although bear in mind that hospitals are always absolutely boiling.
Stretchy bra tops. The really cheap kind that come in multi-packs. They’re comfy and super-stretchy, so work well as sleep/nursing bras, as well as drying super-quickly after a water birth if you have one.
Wrapped snacks. Think cereal bars, dried fruit, sweeties, stuff that doesn’t go off or make too much mess. Shove some chocolate in there too, just because. Although it might melt due to aforementioned tropical climate of most hospitals.
A comfy nightie or big t-shirt, plus a dressing gown. Depending on how long you’re in, you might want a few nightwear options – especially because you’ll inevitably get gross bodily fluids on them. (Sorry)
A pillow. Because the hospital ones can be stingey. Also useful when you’re trying to get to grips with feeding.
Loads of pants. And then some more pants as well. Big old comfy ones.
Maternity pads. Useful for when your waters break, as well as all the mess afterwards. Take more than you think you need!
Travel-size toiletries (remember face wipes – you might not have a face full of make-up to wipe off but they’ll help you feel cool and fresh)
FOR THE BABY
Nappy paraphernalia, obvs. Now, midwives will tell you your baby’s bum must be cleaned with cotton wool and cool boiled water to start with. Very few people actually keep this up. Proceed with caution as babies do have sensitive skin, but these days there are plenty of very gentle wipes on the market, including the reusable variety if you can be bothered.
Clothes, obvs. Consider packing newborn size AND the next one up, in case you birth a whopper (you have our sympathies).
A hat. Partly for warmth, partly for aesthetic reasons due to tendency for newborn heads to be a bit misshapen and/or crusty to start with.
FOR YOUR PARTNER
Whatever they might need for an overnight stay, in case they end up stopping over. A toothbrush is definitely a good call, because babies can smell fear.
A list of people to contact with the news, along with the words “TELL THEM NOT TO PUT ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK UNTIL WE HAVE” underlined in red.
A can-do attitude and lots of patience. Not currently available on Amazon Prime.