There's not much more exciting than packing your hospital bag. It's a sign that the end is near! After nine (possibly long) months, you're on the downhill stretch towards meeting your baby. YIPPEE!
Your hospital and how long you're staying will determine what you need to pack in your hospital bag to some extent BUT there's still a list of essentials that can make even the shortest stay that little bit more comfortable.
Whatever kind of birth you have, you can count on post-birth bleeding. Some mamas may be shocked by just how much blood they lose after birth. While things like small clots and the occasional gush is normal, it's always good to check with your care provider if you're worried. Stemming the flow is key and comfortable maternity pads are essential. Alternatively, disposable undies can be great option for the first few days as they are less likely to bunch or move and are super comfy. Pack more than you think you'll need, especially if you're in hospital for a longer period as you're better off having more than not enough!
Even if you weren't a 'bra in bed' wearer pre-birth, you will soon become one after, especially once your milk comes in! Your new, super sized boobies will need gentle support plus a maternity bra keeps your breast pads in place. Make sure you pick a bra that's comfortable to sleep in and allows easy boob access for when you're feeding every 15 seconds.
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The last thing you want near your sensitive, post-birth parts is hospital grade toilet paper. Soft, flushable wipes can make toilet trips that little bit more comfortable, as can a small spray bottle filled with warm water to spritz any stitches and prevent acidic urine from taking up residence next to recently closed wounds. You can also purchase specific peri-sprays which can be used to soothe and promote healing.
If you've never experienced your milk coming in, prepare yourself for when the floodgates open. And they may not close for awhile! Soft, comfortable breast pads are absolutely essential if you don't want to wake up in a puddle of milk. Disposable or reusable, stock up on more than you think you need. We love the Nature's Child Organic Cotton Reusable Breast Pads and Unimom Disposable Breast Pads
That first shower, post-birth is like some kind of heaven and the last thing you want to be using is hospital hand wash. Take it from this mum who forgot toiletries after one of her births and found that to be almost as difficult to handle as labour. It can be a lovely idea to purchase a special new body wash/shampoo/conditioner etc to take with you for after birth. Look for something gentle and low fragrance or fragrance free. It's also a good idea to pack a couple of tubes or tubs of lipbalm as hospital aircon and heating will dry out your lips like nothing else.
Hospitals can get mighty chilly, especially at night when you're up feeding. Comfortable PJ's with easy boob access mean you'll stay warm and snug which is beneficial for milk flow (and makes those middle of the night visits from the midwife or trips to the loo a little less exposing!) Natural fibres that wash well are ideal and styles with buttons down the front mean you can pop out a boob without having to strip half naked. Having a couple of breastfeeding-friendly jumpers can also be handy for day and night time use, especially during the cooler months.
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Hospital floors are not the place you want to be barefoot! While you may spend the initial hours after birth in bed, chances are good you'll be up and about at some stage and may want to move around the ward/attend baby classes/take yourself and bubba for a coffee. Slippers/warm socks and thongs don't take up much room and should fit even the most tender and swollen post-birth tootsies.
Many mamas pack their Haakaa in their hospital bag so that they can start using it straight away. Your Haakaa can be used to collect colostrum and is also fantastic for helping to relieve engorgement in the early days after your milk comes in. Just make sure you give it a good wash in hot, soapy water or with your chosen sterilisation method before you use for the first time.
Think your phone charger, a notepad and pen for jotting down info like feed times or helpful numbers, hair elastics, bobby pins, a BIG water bottle (and a spare in case one goes missing), your own pillow if you prefer sleeping on it, hand sanitiser to save you running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, hand cream, a book or kindle (yes, you may actually get sometime to read), and anything else that's small but will help make the hospital a little bit more comfortable.
It can be a bit of shock realising that your body still looks 9 months pregnant numerous days after birth. The last thing you want to have to do is SQUEEZE into anything tight or constrictive. Pack your favourite lounge-type wear, plenty of maternity singlets, cardigans or similar to wear over the top and maybe your favourite maternity jeans or dress for the big trip home. If you've purchased recovery or compression gear, make sure you pack that as it's usually advised to start wearing it ASAP after birth. And knickers. Pack more than you think you'll need and go for comfortable and black (trust us). I stocked up on a 10 pack of black cotton brief style knickers at Kmart and was very glad I packed them all!
Everyone will be different but here are a few things the Milkbar team agreed you can safely leave at home:
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From waking every 3.5 minutes to feed to spending hours settling a wide awake bubba, sleep is probably the most talked about topic for new parents (actually make that all parents because toddler sleep can be almost as painful!). And navigating life with minimal sleep is tough (there's a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!)
We're sharing our top sleep hacks for tired parents to help make the world a little bit brighter, even when you're running on empty.