Our Hospital Bag (& how to survive the maternity ward...)
I love a good list, and that is pretty much what this post is about. It’s daunting to pack for a stay in hospital but after a couple of stints now, there are a few crucial pieces I wanted to share (earplugs, Haribo etc.) A word of advice - the post-partum section probably isn’t for spontaneous reading…
For UK readers, we’ve also now experienced staying in the Birthing Centre and the maternity ward...two very different places. I’ve captured a few thoughts about both at the end.
2 x cotton hats (we love these little knotted ones)
4 x vests (our favourites - we keep buying these as the boys grow bigger)
4 x sleep suits (get ones with foot covers)
2 x small muslins
2 x large muslins
A ‘take-home’ outfit
Car Seat (a must in the UK)
Ready-to-go formula in bottles (in case breastfeeding proves tricky)
Bottles & formula if you plan to bottle feed
1 x Robe
1 x nightie (probably not your sexiest one…)
2 x ‘easy’ pants (anything with an elastic waist)
2 x tops
1 x jersey
1 x shower shoes
1 x slippers
Socks & sneakers
Toiletries - shampoo, moisturiser, toothbrush & toothpaste, hairbrush & hair ties, lip balm, face wash, deodorant
Earplugs & eye mask (this was the only way I got any sleep on the ward)
Phone & charger
Entertainment - books, magazines, headphones
Snacks - we had dried fruit, nuts & candy (of course!)
Disposable knickers (as gross as it sounds, they’re very useful)
We bought these ice packs but didn’t end up using them, although friends have sung their praises
Soft toy for baby (for those first announcement photos)
I love the tradition of a small champagne bottle for Mum & Dad - aaand you will totally deserve a drink by then
I wish I had some nice chocolates to hand to thank the midwives who looked after me. Or lip balms with pre-written ‘thank-you’ notes.
If Dads are able to stay, pack an outfit & toiletries for him too
The Birthing Centre vs. Maternity Ward
After having George, we spent a day and a half in our own room in Chelsea & Westminster’s Birth Centre. With our own huge room, a double bed and private ensuite, it was bliss. Fast-forward to James’ birth where we were discharged to the six-to-a-ward maternity wing. Honestly? It is a bit of a rubbish start to parenting a new baby. With only curtains dividing you for privacy, sleep is almost non-existent between babies crying, mothers crying, fathers snoring and machines blipping. There is nothing restful about it. If you can afford it, I’d highly recommend trying to get a private room (they weren’t available when we were there). If not - remember to pack shower shoes, ear plugs and an eye mask to try and make your time there as passable as possible. Bring entertainment too as the TVs aren’t free.
The staff in both places though are phenomenal. I can’t thank the teams enough for trying to make the stay as supportive and warm as they did. They showed genuine concern and affection for both James & I, and I have such new-found respect and admiration for midwifery.
I learned a lot on the maternity ward. You see new parents being made all around you. It reminded me how much a spectrum of experiences exists, and helped me to understand that each path to motherhood is so different. There were women who couldn’t stop cooing over their baby, and then women who hardly wanted to touch theirs. Women who came into the hospital looking very polished in high heels who then spent days in the same grubby robe, in a bit of a drug-funked daze. Some (like me) wanted to get out of there as fast as they could. Others were clinging onto having the expertise of a lactation consultant right around the corner (totally understandable, especially if it’s your first time). To sum up, come prepared - and fingers’ crossed for a short stay.
With Love, Kate