From little luxuries to new-born essentials, here’s everything your hospital birthing bag shouldn’t be without
The weeks before you give birth are an incredibly exciting yet stressful time. You’ve probably read every book available on becoming a new mum, but what about the birthing part? There are a number of items you can take with you to make the process more comfortable. Below, five midwives from around the UK reveal the essential items you’ll want to keep close when the big day comes.
Emily Butterworth, lead midwife at free live midwife chat service Lansinoh, says giving birth is like running back-to-back marathons. “You’ll want to keep your energy levels high,” she explains, “as breastfeeding can require a lot of effort after you’ve just given birth. Snacks and isotonic drinks are essential, so it’s a good idea to keep them close by during your stay in hospital. A multipack of Lucozade is a must, so to is a pack of flapjacks or breakfast bars.
For pain relief
Sure, hospitals provide a lot of drugs that can provide pain relief, but there are some unexpected things you can pack yourself to help ease aching muscles. “Pack yourself a tennis ball and an old sock,” says Emily Street, midwife at The Portland Hospital in London. “Tennis balls are the best massage tool going. Stick one in the end of a sock and secure it to the dad’s or birth partner’s hand. They then have a good grip on the ball to be able to give a great massage to the lower back and hips without it hurting their hands.”
Pip, a mother of one with more than ten years of experience working as a midwife in some of the UK’s leading maternity wards, recommends Neal’s Yard’s Remedies To Roll (nealsyardremedies.com). These aromatherapy oils come in a small roll-on tube, making them convenient for use in the hospital whilst giving you all the wonderful benefits of aromatherapy during your labour and birth – simply roll on to the inner wrist or the side of your neck to let the fragrances work its magic. Studies have shown that aromatherapy, a complimentary therapy that uses smell to boost our health, can improve mood, sleep, inflammation and nausea, all of which are common symptoms during labour. Women’s Balance is a blend of geranium and rose that aims to relax, calm and restore the body and mind, whilst Relaxation is a comforting formula of lavender, bergamot and frankincense that allows you to unwind .
Laura Boyd, midwife and co-founder of sleep consultancy, The Dream Team, recommends a high-quality water bottle for your birthing bag. “You want a big one that will keep water cool for a long time, with a straw like top. Staying hydrated in labour is crucial but also important for breastfeeding mums, to help with colostrum production,” she says. “A lot of new mums can find going to the bathroom for the first time a bit scary… should you need any stitches down below, your water bottle will come in handy once again. Splash yourself with cool water whilst using the toilet to take the sting out of passing urine.”
Meg Murray Jones from The Postpartum Plan says the number one thing that mums will want to pack for the post-birth period is a pair of postpartum pants. “You can get great high-waisted ones that support both abdominal and vaginal births and are super absorbent for the first few weeks of postpartum bleeding.” Made from Tencel™ modal material, this pair from BABYGO® (babygo.uk) is designed to feel like a second skin, stretching and moulding to your figure to provide gentle compression and relief from postpartum pains.