What do I need for Labour? Hospital or Homebirth
A few mums, particularly first time mums, have asked me to do a blog on what you actually need when you go into labour. I am going to start packing my hospital bag/homebirth box this week (I am 34 weeks pregnant) although you can get it ready whenever it suits you. Bear in mind, women are classed full term at 37 weeks and it certainly isn’t unusual for babies to come early so don’t leave it to late to get your stuff ready. I have broken it down a bit, this is just my personal list.
For a hospital bag: Pregnancy Notes– Midwives and doctors will not be impressed of you turn up without them and the chances are your birthing partner will be sent back home to pick them up.
Tens Machine – everyone knows about my love for a tens machine, I am lucky enough that a tens machine helps me from early labour to transition with bearable pain. Your tens will probably be strapped to you before you even leave for hospital (it is more effective the earlier you use it) but pop it in your hospital bag so you know where it is when you need it.
Loose tracksuit – or trousers and a t shirt to travel home in, something that is not to tight (your tummy is still tender after baby is born).
Knickers – pack a few pairs of maternity Knickers or a size bigger than you usually wear. Contrary to what posh spice would have you believe, you still have a ‘Baby bump’ for a little while after birth.
Lipsalve or Vaseline – labour is hardwork and with all the panting you do or gas and air, your lips can dry out quickly.
Hair bands – When I’m sweating and mean business I can not tolerate my hair sweaping in front of my face.
Make up– look, everyone will tell you you don’t care about how you look when you are in labour and I would completly agree. However, if you are staying in hospital for a day or so and are expecting visitors you might want to pop a bit of blusher and mascara on. Honestly, my last few births I couldn’t care less, but I have been at home and able to hide upstairs from guests if I want to. When I had the twins (my first) the next morning I couldn’t wait to have a wash and put some slap on. Yep that’s right, I wanted to give the impression of totally nailing this baby lark. If I could give myself some advice I would say, why did you bother!? no visitors even noticed you. They were too busy cooing over the new babies, but it made me feel better and if it makes you feel better, pack it!
Wine gums – My midwives have always told me to have some wine gums or a similar sweets with you. They give you a quick energy burst if you start to feel tired or weak during labour.
Shampoo/bodywash/toothbrush and toothpaste – it always makes you feel better to have a good wash after delivery.
Nipple pads – Obvs to prevent any leakages.
Bikini top – Incase you fancy a water birth but don’t want to bear all in the tub
Book/ magazines – Some labours can go on for a while so you might want to take something to occupy yourself. This is why I would try to stay at home as long as you can, I find it easier to pass the time at home rather than in a hospital.
Phone / Camera and charger – labour can take a while and let’s face it, none of us can cope for too long without Facebook or Instagram! If you’re not as sad as me you will at least want your phone charged ready for pics of your gorgeous new bubba. While on the subject of photos, may I give you a word of advice? Get someone to take photos straight after delivery. It is the last thing you think of when pushing baby out but I have no pics of my first cuddle with my first four children. My photo with George I absolutly cherish, I look rough as anything and it is far from a glamorous selfie,but looking at it reminds me of that wonderful moment. It is a regret I have with my others, I was too concerned about how I looked to let anyone photo me!
Newborn nappies – 4lb to 11lb usually covers all possibilities, whether you have a dinky dolly or a bigger beauty.
Cotton Wool – you aren’t suppose to use baby wipes on newborn babies. You are told to use warm water and cotton wool. I’m not going to lie, at the risk of being told off, I never used cotton wool with my last two babies. It’s fiddly and really awkward, I use fragrance free baby wipes.
Clothes– three vests, three babygrows, a hat and a cardigan/coat. Anticipate that you might be in hospital for a couple of days after the birth. That is unlikely, and even if you do have to stay in I am sure someone could bring in some extra clothes for you. Having said that, babies can make a mess quite easily so I would pack at least three of each anyway. I have always been told, the rule of thumb is, a baby should always wear one more layer of clothing than you. So depending on the time of year your baby is due you may need a couple of extra layers.
Blanket – to wrap your brand new bundle up in.
Two bottles and formula – if you dont plan to breastfeed then take a couple of small bottles and carton / bottle of ready made formula. my hospital provided both but just incase things are different at yours it’s best to be prepared.
Car Seat – It’s easily forgotten when you are in a rush to get to hospital but don’t forget you will need a car seat to bring baby home in. Some hospital won’t discharge you without one.
Maternity pads– giving birth is a messy business! my tip is to actually forget maternity pads and get incontinence pads from the supermarket,they are usually cheaper and….. The thicker the better. Imagine your heaviest period…the hours/days post birth is worse!
Pjs– a nice clean set of maternity pajamas so that you are as comfortable as possible after baby is born. I love the Anita range, they are super comfortable but pretty with it.
For a Homebirth: For a homebirth you will still need everything listed above. It is still best to have everything packed in a hospital bag, just incase, like me, you have to dash to the hospital at the last minute.
Birthing Pool– I loved my water/homebirth. It was more simple than you would think to set up. I used an Eco Pool which came with everything, I highly recommend it. https://www.birthpoolinabox.co.uk/home Just make sure you set it up early and close to a toilet /bathroom so you don’t have to walk around the house soaking wet.
Four or Five Towels – preferably old towels so that you can just throw everything away afterwards but you can buy cheap towels from primark or tesco if not.
Bin bags – to scoop everything up and throw away.
Incontinence Bed Pads – you can buy these of Amazon, they are so cheap and I used them for a couple of weeks after the births. They save your bedclothes/mattress/sofa and if you have some left over, put them in the cupboard and they come in useful if your darlings go through a bed-wetting stage!
Paracetamol – it might sound silly but make sure you have some handy as those early contractions can be controlled by paracetamol and it will help you get a bit of sleep before showtime.
Movies – Download a couple of good movies or box sets and have some music ready.
Clean duvet covers and bed sheets – I always make sure I have a fresh bed set in my bedroom. Whether I give birth in hospital or at home, there is nothing nicer than getting into a fresh bed with your new baby after you have showered and put your clean clothes on. This obviously isn’t essential, just a good way of putting that ‘nesting’ energy you have a few days before birth to good use. For more natural pain relief options take a look at my other post If you have found this post useful or know someone who is expecting a baby please share this on your social media.