As we have mentioned before, we had always planned that when we had a baby, we would plan a home birth. The reasons for this are simple - less intervention, more privacy, the chance to be more relaxed in the comfort of our own home, being able to snuggle up in bed together for our first cuddle with our newborn, and then the ability to get on with our new life, at home, together.
My diagnosis of pre-eclampsia brought a swift end to this, but we really do not mind. We were never those kind of people who thought you could plan birth, it is unpredictable by nature, and we are very happy to go with the flow. Well now the flow has brought us to 36 weeks, and closer to the time when the time is right to meet our little one.
It is surreal, exciting and crazy to think that our pregnancy is nearly over, and we are very nearly ready to embark on the next journey - parenthood. His nursery is finished, his pram is set up and waiting, his car seat is installed in the car, his wardrobe is full of the cutest tiny little clothes, and his Mummies can't wait to meet him. We have also completed one final task - getting our hospital bags packed. Here is what we will be taking with us to the hospital when we are admitted for induction:
My two week stay in hospital at the beginning of the month due to pre eclampsia gave us an insight into packing hospital bags, and how important it is to be prepared! Sarah made sure I had everything I could possibly need or want, and having familiar home comforts really makes a difference when you are in hospital.
So, first things first, the bag - we needed a big one! So we got this large hold all and matching wash bag from Cath Kidston.
This bag will contain things we need for me, with baby things separate. We have packed:
- Clothes that are comfortable for me to wear whilst in hospital but not in active labour - Victoria Secret bottoms and a comfortable maternity T-shirt - then a nightdress for labour, which is big enough to accommodate the fetal monitoring underneath, and has buttons down the front for immediate skin to skin, a nightdress to wear afterwards, and then dark clothes for wearing after the birth - leggings, maternity vest tops, PJ bottoms and a large front opening shirt.
- A pack of new, pretty huge undies. If I have a C-section I will need big pants to go right up over my scar, if I don't then you can't go wrong with comfortable M&S underwear!
- A toiletries bag. With all the usual culprits - shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc, and also things like ear plugs in case of an overnight stay in a noisy ward. We know induction may take quite a few days so have packed enough for me to be in hospital a little while.
- Maternity pads. People say it feels like wearing a nappy. I don't remember what wearing a nappy feels like, but oh how much I look forward to having to wear these…
- A hairdryer (and GHDs will be added the night before). People say you don't care what you look like after you've had a baby, but I at least want the option to be able to wash, dry and straighten my hair before visitors descend. I guess a huge perk of being married to Sarah is that she can do the drying and straightening for me, if needs be!
- Flip flops. My feet are swollen due to the pre-eclampsia, and being in hospital last time taught me that it's a pain to keep putting shoes on when you just want to go the kitchen and fill up you water jug! Havaianas are really comfortable, and even fit swollen feet!
- A TENS machine. Not pictured as it's yet to arrive! To help ease backache and pain of contractions, particularly in the earlier part of the induction process.
We also have a small bag containing little items, this is helpful so you are not digging around a huge bag for tiny things stuck at the bottom.
- A flannel - a lovely soft one from The White Company. For Sarah to put cold water on and use as a compress for me in labour. Labouring women get HOT!
- Clary Sage aromatherapy oil. To hopefully assist with bringing on the labour, clary sage is a powerful uterine tonic, so I plan to use it in the early stages if my body is needing a little encouragement!
- Relax pulse point from The White Company. Contains lavender to calm, peppermint to refresh and clary sage which is cooling and a uterine tonic.
- Earth Mama Morning Wellness spray. I have used this a lot in pregnancy to help keep nausea at bay, combined with their herbal teas, and figured I may need it to ease nausea in labour, plus it also is good for anxiety. It's completely natural, and contains essential oils of peppermint, ginger and tangerine.
- Disposable underwear. Needs no explanation…
- Lip Balm (Burts Bees) - labouring women get really dry, sore lips, especially if they are using the Gas and Air for a while.
- Breast Pads. We have chosen to use reusable products where possible, so have packed some reusable breast pads made from extra soft bamboo.
- Lansinoh nipple cream. I will be breastfeeding, so the general advice is to start applying cream pretty much from the first feed, to hopefully avoid too much trauma.
Not pictured: a phone charger, iPad to keep us entertained while we wait for things to happen, a v neck top for Sarah to hold our boy skin to skin after he is born.
And now onto the baby bag! We chose this tote bag from The White Company as its a good size, has a small inside pocket, and is really cute!
We decided it would be easier to have a separate baby bag as it makes things easier to find.
- Nappies - We will be using cloth nappies, but don't want the first time we use them, and get used to them, to be immediately after giving birth. So for ease, we have a small pack of Pampers just for the hospital.
- WaterWipes - Again, we will be using cloth reusable wipes on our baby at home, but we have a small pack of disposable wipes to make things as easy as possible at the hospital. Hospitals recommend that you use cotton wool and water on your baby when they are born, but water wipes contain 99.9% water and 0.01% fruit extract so are very natural. We also have some organic cotton wool pads.
- Hats - We have packed three hats, two from The White Company in tiny baby size and one from Next in first size. Baby hats are always too big for newborns!
- Vests - We have packed five vests. We bought these from M&S as their new born size seems to be pretty small. As a midwife Lauren has seen that Newborn sized clothes are often too big for newborns, and ours will also be an early baby.
- Sleepsuits - Some plain, and some pretty ones for visitors. Again from M&S in newborn, and Next in first size, which both come up small.
- Blankets - we have a lightweight cotton blanket, as the weather is fairly warm, and a cellular blanket as they regulate body temperature, both from The White Company as their cell blankets are the softest we've found.
- Muslins - a baby essential! Used as blankets, swaddles, burp cloths, wipes…
- Nappy cream - we have two travel sizes from Burt's Bees, Baby Bee Diaper Ointment, and 2 in 1 Cream To Baby.
- Socks - Like hats, another item it is hard to find in tiny size - these are from H&M, and the smallest ones we have!
Other stuff - (yes, there's more!)
Comforter - we have slept with this in our bed for a few weeks, meaning it will smell like his Mummies and will hopefully help him to settle a little more easily. It's pretty special as it was the first thing we ever bought when we found out we were going to have a baby. 7th October 2015 seems like such a long time ago now, but it's the day we got our positive pregnancy test. We bought a little grey and white elephant comforter from Jellycat and hopefully it will become a favourite for our boy.
Drinks and snacks - lucozade for energy, and other little snacks to keep us going - you can't beat veggie Percy's! Plus a few little Graze boxes, granola bars and some cookies - essential!
Music / small portable speaker for iPhone - Sarah has compiled a playlist of a lot of our favourite songs, some of which were on our wedding playlist, some of them from our amazing trip to America where we drove for miles and miles, and some are songs we both just love. Having music playing that we have chosen will help us both to stay relaxed and positive through the birth process.
Expressed Milk - I will be breastfeeding our son, but have seen first hand through my job that despite the absolute best will in the world, and through no fault of the mothers at all, breastfeeding just doesn't go to plan. Whilst I remain quietly confident in my ability to feed our child, we wanted to make sure that if for whatever reason that first feed from me couldn't happen - for example if I ended up needing a general anaesthetic in an emergency, or if our boy needed help from NICU, his first feed would still be colostrum, and hopefully his other Mommy will be able to give it to him. For this reason we decided I would do some antenatal hand expressing, and collect any milk we got. I have been quite lucky that with my wife's help and master milk collecting skills (expressing and simultaneously syringing up milk is pretty hard work!) we have managed to collect quite a few syringes of colostrum, which are in the freezer at the moment, and we will take with us to the hospital.
And that's it! Let us know if you think we've forgotten anything - although with the amount we've packed, that seems unlikely! We have found preparation is definitely the key to feeling calm and ready, though we aren't sure anything can completely prepare you for the birth of your first child. Well, we do love an adventure, so baby boy, we are ready when you are!
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