Oh the sweet, sweet anticipation of the arrival a new little life. There truly are few things that can ever compare to the butterfly-inducing, heart-soaring, achey, toilet-break-filled final days before you meet your newest love.
A week where every twinge could mean something. Every bedtime begins with 'could this be the night?'. You are on the cusp of the most difficult, most magic, most life-altering moment of your life.
My 39th week of pregnant was spent in stretchy pants, bingeing on Netflix (and Lindt chocolate), getting daily massages from hubby (I should remind him of that), sleeping in and napping (sleep in, do not feel guilty) and planning the glass of wine I would have when bub had safely joined us.
We lived in a little London apartment when our first little one joined us. Minimalism was our goal not only from an aesthetic desire but out of spatial necessity. I scoured every "minimalist baby list" on Pinterest at the time. I halved the usual "must haves" and hoped for the best.
That brings me to this checklist... My Mama/Baby/Partner hospital bag checklist has become a much-shared Google Doc among my girlfriends and their girlfriends over the past few years so I thought I would put together a pretty version for the website.
I've gone into some explanations below but if you want the simplified checklist I've put a link to a downloadable PDF at the bottom of the post :)
PS: I fitted all of the below into a little wheelie carry on suitcase.
Silly But Somewhat Necessary Disclaimers
1) I'm no expert. I'm not a midwife. I've not had six children. My knowledge comes from reading a whole lot of anecdotal accounts from fellow mamas in preparation for my first birth and experiencing two births + two hospital stays personally.
2) I was very lucky to have short hospital stays with both of my births. I was in hospital 1 night with baby #1 and 2 nights with baby #2. The minimalist approach covered me fine for a stay of this duration but I may have needed a few extras if this had stretched days longer.
3) I didn't have a c-section in either of my births so I may not have covered some items that are helpful for a c-section recovery. Make sure you send me an email if I can add something to this list to cover any caesarean must-haves :)
In no particular order, here is my ultimate, minimalist hospital bag checklist...
Nursing Singlet or Tank x 2 - I layered these under non-maternity shirts/tees/blouses and effectively avoided having to buy any nursing tops. I loved the shaping variety (like this) that gave you some support in the mid-section. Look for ones with a little bit of length so they don't ride up constantly.
Cheap Black Briefs - I bought a 10 pack of cheapish, cotton, full brief black undies (like this) to take into hospital. Cheap so you can just throw them out afterward if you have to. Full brief because you need comfort and a fair bit of coverage to fit the glamorous maternity pads in there. Black because it is easier for reasons I don't think I need to explain.
Tops x 2 - Loose fitting, bump-friendly tops are a great choice for your hospital stay. They keep maternity wards really warm so I packed a light cotton tee and a slightly dressier shirt for when visitors pop in and/or you try to capture a cute moment with baby without your boobs out.
Comfortable Pants x 2 - Yoga, harem-style or trackpants are perfect. Black is preferable, we can all imagine why.
Cotton Robe / Dressing Gown - A robe is great for before, during & after birth. Easy access for birthing, feeding while having coverage for the moments you don't want to put real clothes on yet.
Nightie / Nightshirt - A nightie can be perfect for birthing in if you prefer to be a little more covered up but your birthing team need access to all the lady areas.
Flip Flops - Depending on the bathroom situation in your ward you may have to trek down the hall to a communal shower/toilet so flip flops are easy to throw on as you get around the ward + if you're a bit germ-phobic (like myself) with the shared shower situation.
Toiletries - I kept it real simple. Wet wipes, a compact mirror (great if you don't have an ensuite room), mini shampoo + conditioner, toothbrush + toothpaste, tinted moisturiser, tinted lip balm and mascara.
Nipple Cream - pre-emptive nipple cream application is kingggg. Buy a feeding-friendly cream and apply as soon as you start feeding, don't wait for soreness. I didn't bother packing breast pads because I knew milk probably wouldn't come in for a few days.
Pads - Hospitals will often provide their own pads but I definitely preferred the quality of the ones I brought in from home. You may be able to swap to standard super pads within a couple of days pending your recovery situation so don't over-stock the maternity variety.
Water Wipes: You may require stitches in your lady parts thanks to that adorable little human you just birthed. If you do, then water wipes (wipes + water + fruit extract only, no soap or harsh chemicals) instead of toilet paper are very helpful for bathroom breaks immediately postpartum when everything is a bit confusing and sore down there.
We didn't know the baby's gender prior to either of our births so we packed neutral onesies with a little headband for a little lady and a more "boyish" beanie/hat for a little mister. We saved space by sticking to just slightly more gender-specific accessories vs two entire outfits.
You might need to slightly tailor this list to your climate. Generally maternity units are kept very warm year-round but obviously if you are escorting baby through snow to the carpark for your departure you may need to add some heavy duty winter wear to the list.
Long Sleeved Bodysuit x 2 - I loved the kimono style bodysuits that dome on the side so you don't need to slip on over their wobbly little heads especially on your first couple of times.
Zippy All in One x 2 (I love a 0000 Bonds wondersuit) - Zippy for the same reasons I mention above.
Merino Singlet/Vest - A merino wool singlet onesie (like this) is great for all temperatures so it is a perfect choice for a versatile under-layer option.
Baby Wrap/Swaddle x 2 - I would recommend taking two because there can be a whole lot of bodily fluid action happening for those first few days while everyone is figuring everything out. I know a brand who do some pretty ones ;)
Blanket - I was gifted one really beautiful merino blanket with my first baby and I kept that as the special hospital blanket for the second time around too. If you want to indulge in an item for the hospital I think a lovely neutral woollen blanket (I love this one) that could get passed down to future children and even their children is a beautiful idea.
Socks x 2 - I love these little Jamie Kay socks. I didn't bother adding mittens to this list because a) I never mastered keeping them on newborn hands and b) I love holding baby hands too much to keep them tucked away.
FOR BIRTH PARTNER
Camera + Camera Chargers
Spare memory card
Snacks - I can't speak for everyone but I got SO peckish after baby arrived so pack plenty. Especially for birth partners as hospitals often only offer food to the mamas.
Change of clothes - Whether your birth partner is planning on staying overnight or not have them pack a change of clothes just in case. Our firstborn pooped meconium down my hubby's shirt & trousers within 30 seconds of the first cuddle.
Playlist + Portable Speaker - If you are a birth playlist kind of mama then bring your own portable speaker + playlist device (ipod, phone etc).
Birth Aids - heat pack, essential oils, massage oils etc.
Ok, that's all friends. Download the checklist below so you can check them off as you pack.
Hope you have a beautiful and powerful birthing experience and welcome your baby safely and smoothly into the world.
Let me know if you think I have missed anything or - even better - if you loved the list :)