To keep things simple, we suggest what you should pack in your hospital bag and what you should leave behind.
Packing your hospital bag for you and your new baby can be a daunting task. As you sort through your cupboards and all the cute items you received at your baby shower, you may feel overwhelmed and start to wonder what you should include, and what you can get away with leaving at home. Well, the good news is that we’ve done the hard work for you – and compiled this essential hospital bag check-list with all the stuff you don’t need for your hospital stay, as much as family and friends might tell you.
Swop a breast pump for breast pads and nipple cream
From the minute your little one is born, he’ll start to suckle from your breast and take in as much colostrum as he can. As a result, your nipples might become dry and cracked as you get used to breastfeeding, which is why it’s a good idea to pack a good-quality nipple cream and breast pads for when your milk does come in. However, it takes a few days for your body to release the milk you’ve produced, so chances are you won’t need a breast pump initially. If for some reason you can’t produce milk or your baby has a medical condition that needs careful monitoring and attention, the hospital staff may suggest feeding your baby through a tube or supplementing some feeds. In this case, most private hospitals do supply electric breast pumps, which are constantly cleaned and ready to use. This means you can safely leave yours at home for later use.
Replace magazines or books with calming music
Most new moms will agree that those first few days are a whirlwind of feeding, changing nappies, and bonding with your baby. This means lots of kangaroo care (skin-on-skin contact) and letting your little one sleep on your chest. So, although you may not have a spare second, or a free hand, to page through a magazine, some calming music playing might come in handy at 2 am when you’re feeling a little anxious or struggling to sleep. Also, let’s face it, when sleep deprivation starts to kick in, it can be tricky to concentrate on reading when all you want to do is sleep when your baby does!
Forget lacy lingerie and choose practical panties and feeding bras
Whether you had a C-section or natural birth, you’ll want to wear clothes and underwear that’s as practical and as comfortable as possible. This means leaving your sexy underwear for later and packing soft cotton clothing that’s easy to slip on and off. Feeding bras are brilliant in this sense, as they have simple clips that can be undone with one hand and fastened again with ease. You might also want to consider keeping a feeding shawl handy for those times where you need to breastfeed but have visitors.
You don’t need perfume and make-up, but you will need dry shampoo and moisturiser
Studies have shown that smell is the most advanced sense that your baby has at birth. He’ll be especially drawn to the smell of breast milk and can distinguish his mother’s unique smell from another woman’s. These familiar smells are soothing and comforting for your baby, which is why you should avoid wearing heavy perfume or scented body lotion for at least the first 12 weeks. Also, you’ll be so busy with your new bundle of joy that you might not even have time to shower or apply make-up before visitors arrive. Or, if you’re recovering from a C-section, it might be too painful to bath or move around too much. This is where dry shampoo and a dual product such as a tinted moisturiser will do the trick!
Ditch energy drinks and caffeine for jungle juice and smart snacks instead
What you eat and drink while nursing can have a direct impact on your baby. This means you should be cutting out preservatives, additives, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine. However, the good news is there are healthier alternatives that’ll give you the nutritious boost you need to breastfeed every two to three hours in those first few weeks.
See this recipe for jungle juice, which stimulates milk production, below: Ingredients
- 1 litre boiled water
- 1 litre apple juice
- 1 sachet Blackcurrant Rehydrate
- 60ml Schlehen Blackthorn Berry Elixir (available at Baby City and DisChem)
- 8-10 drops of Rescue Remedy
Mix all the ingredients in a two-litre container. This amount should be consumed in 24 hours.
Instead of a baby monitor pack an eye mask and earplugs
Unless you specifically ask for your little one to be kept next to you, most hospitals allow your baby to sleep in the nursery if you need a break. If you’re breastfeeding, the nurses will bring your baby to you to feed, so you don’t need to listen out for your little one. So, in order to get much-needed rest after giving birth, you may want to consider blocking out all the hospital noises and bright lights with earplugs and an eye mask. Ask a nurse to wake you when your little one needs a feed or cuddle.
- For your baby
- Here are a few essentials you WILL need for your baby:
- Your chosen baby creams or oils
- Long-sleeved onesies and socks
- Swaddle blankets
- Baby wipes and nappies