So you're getting closer to your due date, and it's time to prepare for your birth. Whether you have decided to have a home birth , or head to hospital/ birth centre it's a good idea to have a birth bag packed from around 30 weeks onwards. Hospitals and Birth centres are really great now and will usually provide many of the things you will need such as birth balls, towels birthing chairs, low lighting and birth pools/ tubs.
There are two types of bag you will want to pack:
Your labour bag.
Your new baby bag.
You can use a wheelie suitcase, holdall, rucksacks and changing bag combinations. For me even though I was having a home birth, I kept everything in my cabin bag next to the sofa so it could be unzipped and had everything in there ready at the side of me, and it ended up coming along to the birth centre on wheels too!
Let's pack your LABOUR BAG.
Your birth plan! Have this at the top of your birth bag, ready to hand to your midwife, doula, birth partner etc.
Comfortable clothing- Oversized t.shirt, nightie, comfy summer dress, vest top and PJ bottoms. Something you can move around in easily, and that isn't going to create extra heat as you'll be doing a workout! If you're using a TENS machine, you might want to wear loose trousers so it can be clipped onto the waistband. Dressing gown, or robe if you want to be part naked and need a quick cover up. Sports bras, or crop top, or soft bra that can get wet if you want to dip in and out of the bath, shower and use the birth pool. Flip flops for getting in and out of the shower, bath and birth pool.
TENS machine- My number 1 must have item for reducing the sensations of contractions. When the machine is switched on, small electrical impulses are delivered to the affected area of your body, which you feel as a tingling sensation. The electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles. They may also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers.
Fluids- Be sure to pack a couple of water bottles, that can be topped up. Isotonic drinks such as lucozade sport will give you a boost too, and anything to give you some sugar when you don't feel like eating.
Snacks and Food- Labour could potentially range from a few hours, or slowly build over a couple of days. Be sure to prepare for labour as if you were about to run a marathon. Pasta is great, porridge, bananas, nuts and berries, flap jack and slow release energy snacks. On the day, pack a lunch box of your favourite foods, treats, sweets. Don't worry about what you're eating, just try and continue to eat as your body is working out and needs energy to keep your going.
Your favourite music, movies, photo albums. Load up your phone, iPad or laptop with your favourite comedies and films. The more you laugh and relax, the more Oxytocin will be released and will help your labour progress. Another top tip is to put together a photo album of daily an friends, funny days out and silly photos from your favourite adventures. As you look through this, talk about these times. Again, this will get that Oxytocin flowing!
CAMERA! Document the day you became parents. Give this task to your birth partner, and make sure you ask the midwife to take photos of you both, and especially when baby is on it's way out, and as you are doing skin to skin time.
Self Care Items- You may want to take a shower, grab your favourite smelly body wash, or add in some lavender essential oil and create your own. A sponge rubbed on your back under water can be a great relief. Face cream, make-up and shampoo for your first shower after giving birth. I remember it feeling amazing to get all clean after the huge workout I'd just done!
Essentials. I'm just going to list a few of the top items that people shared with me for making things a little easier.
Spare change for parking
Hair bobbles and head band
Straws for drinking
Lip-balm if using gas and air (mouth gets dry)
Phone/ laptop/ camera charger/s
Comfy pillow from home.
Spare towels for your shower
Let's Pack your BABY BAG!
Baby's first outfit. It's a tradition that no baby clothes will ever fit your newborn properly so try not to stress over the size. Aim for 'first size' or tiny baby if you have an inkling. Pick your FAVOURITE outfit when pregnant, use this as something to look at when you are nervous and imagine your baby wearing it when they arrive. It's amazing when you finally dress your baby in this after waiting so patiently.
Nappies They will probably need changing a few times, so I would recommend a pack of 20 nappies in size 0/1. And either cotton wool, or water wipes for sensitive bottoms.
Breast pump, pads and feeding bra. If you have decided to breastfeed, you will out likely need to be observed feeding your baby a couple of times before you can be discharged. It's also a great time to ask any questions. Midwives will be waiting to see if baby is creating wet nappies, and their first poo usually as. this is a good sign they are taking in lots of breastmilk.
Milk- Formula, bottles, teats, bottle warmer. However your feeding, if this is the first time making up formula, I'd recommend getting some of the small ready made milk bottles just to make life easier for yourself. Once you're into the swing of it, then you can master formula powder. Heat up your milk in boiling water in a bowl, or use a bottle warmer (same principle)
A special keepsake This will be a great size comparison as they grow up. Be sure to get a photo of them next to it!
Mittens, socks and Hat- No matter which season your baby is born in, it's going to be a lot cooler than where they have been for the past 9 months. Keep your babies cosy on the ride home with a little hat, mittens and socks.
Baby Vests and Baby grow. Take 5 of each just to be safe. It's s amazing how much mess a newborn can make!
Muslin Blankets- These are great of spills and creating a warmer surface when changing your baby. You can also buy larger ones to create a more discrete cover while breastfeeding. It's completely normal to feel conscious of people watching you, so if covering up makes you feel better until you're more confident, then a muslin is the answer! But really, people do not care about seeing boobs :D
Outfit for after- Your comfiest, outfit. I'd try to avoid anything tightly fitting, tunic, dress leggings and oversized top will be great. BIG knickers, and easy to get on/ off shoes to stop you from bending over.
Sanitary pads. after birth you are likely to still be bleeding, so make sure you have some large maternity pads ready.You can also use them to help with your first post birth poo! SPRITZ for bits is also an amazing product to soothe any pain.
Arnica Tablets- can help reduce swelling, and boost healing for any stitched or sore areas.
And don't forget your Car Seat- You'd be surprised how many times I've heard people have forgotten to set up the car seat before they have their baby.
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