Packing your hospital bag by Jani Venter
I was 34 weeks pregnant when my early labour contractions started. My hospital bag wasn’t 100% packed yet. I still had a good six weeks to go, or so I thought. I was admitted to hospital a week later, in the hope that we could keep the little one in just a little bit longer. My husband was in Germany at the time, setting up the new house that we’d be moving into shortly after the birth here in South Africa. We had a plan and all of a sudden, we had to make a new one. Hubby needed to return to SA and we had to prepare ourselves for a pre-term baby.
It was all very daunting. This little miracle inside of me, wriggling and twisting and turning, would be in my arms sooner that I’d thought. I couldn’t wait, but I was really nervous too, since we had to make it to the 37-week mark to get our little guy as strong as possible and avoid any developmental complications.
Although we had a vague birth-plan, I’d specifically opted to shut out any form of an expectation that formed in my mind. I had heard too many stories from friends, family and colleagues about horror births and for whichever catastrophe I needed to be prepared. I simply could not worry about the sum of all these dreadful experiences and form a worst-case scenario of what I needed to plan for.
So I went in blindly. And there were complications, but these paled in comparison to the magic of seeing my child for the first time. Our little guy timed it perfectly so his daddy was home in time for his arrival. He was born at 37 weeks, a healthy, beautiful boy. We named him Ben.
Life is unpredictable. You don’t always get what you want, when you want it. And sometimes heaven hands you a slice of magic and all you can do is smile and be grateful. But it is nice to be prepared. Something I honestly wasn’t. Well, not as much as I wanted to be and it was all because of my hospital bag.
In my husband’s absence, I had people driving around to fetch things for me. From a toothbrush to pajamas and phone charger, I kept the people in my life pretty busy. All of this could have been avoided had I packed my bag early enough and kept it in the car with me. Lesson learnt…
So apart from the basics, what do you need in your hospital bag? The maternity ward will usually indicate what you need for bubba as well as the essentials like linen savers and maternity sanitary pads. I spoke to some mommies and here are a few extra things they suggested, just for added comfort.
An ipod or playlist on your phone
Whether you’re opting for a natural birth or caesarean, there will be times that you’ll do a lot of waiting. It’s great to have access to your own music then. Some surgeons and doctors will even allow you to play your music while in the theatre or delivery room – just check with them beforehand. And don’t forget your charger.
Things are unpredictable down there and having a few extra pairs of panties will make a huge difference.
Nursing bras and tops
Things happen very quickly after birth and before you know it, you’re bubba will be on your chest, getting all the love he or she needs. If you’re up to it, the nurses will encourage you to breastfeed. You’ll be wearing your theatre gown at this stage, but from day two, it’s convenient to wear tops and bras that make breastfeeding easy. Enter Cherry Melon’s Feeding Camis. These tops feature clips that simply unhook and a bra inner that can easily be lifted over the breast. Plus they’re discreet – a big bonus for first-time mamas still figuring things out.
Hospital floors tend to be cold, so you’ll be happy to have packed these. Just ensure the socks have grip soles – you do not want to slip and fall with your little one in your arms.
A pretty nightgown
If you allow it, you’ll probably get a lot of visitors, so to ensure you’re comfy and not constantly tucking at your pajama top, trying to hide a milk spill (or worse), get a nice, loose-fitting night gown. I simply love cotton kaftan or kimono-style gowns in bright colours.
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