I can’t be the only one obsessed with those “what’s in my handbag” posts.
Maybe it’s because my handbag used to be full of old receipts, about 20 red lipsticks, hair ties and a bulging purse (which held even more receipts and loyalty cards, but never actually any cash) – it was so very far away from those carefully-curated handbags.
If there was ever a time when you needed to prepare for an epic journey, it’s bringing a baby into the world. And while the most important things you’ll need are those money-can’t-buy things like your support person or people, your trusted medical team and, most vital of all, your own self-belief, there are some things you can buy that make the experience a little bit nicer.
So, in conjunction with the seven mothers and babies from Mothers’ Group who gathered in my house this week, I present to you:
The six items to pack in your hospital bag (and two to leave just next to it).
1. Giant black nanna knickers
I went in to be induced on the night of Mother’s Day and on the way, my husband and I stopped for a “last meal as the two of us” of Afghani flatbread and falafel. Then, when I got to hospital, I kept apologising to my midwife for my garlic breath.
Guys, garlic breath would be the least of anyone’s worries. Not to scare any expectant mothers out there, but birth is a bit of a shitshow. You will need big knickers to hold the giant pads they give you during and after your baby is born. If you have a Cesarean, you won’t want any lower knicker elastic pressing on your scar. These knickers will be your best friends in your first weeks home, too.
Go to Kmart. Buy a bulk pack of nanna knickers in a size or two up. You won’t regret it.
2. Your own toilet paper
This one comes straight from the Mothers’ Group brains trust. Think about it. You’re often required to demonstrate your ability to wee and poo after the birth. If ever there was a time for soft, gentle, luxurious toilet paper, this is it.
LISTEN:Monique Bowley and Rebecca Judd take a look at what to pack in your hospital bag, on our pregnancy podcast. (post continues after audio…)
3. A high-quality water bottle
Choose one that you can drink from in bed while reclining. Bonus points for a nice wide neck so you can fill it with ice. When you’re home and whether you’re breastfeeding or not you’ll be so, so thirsty, this water bottle will become one of your most precious items.
4. A bag or two of fun-size chocolates
These are great for energy for your support person, sweet for your medical team but also it’s nice to offer to everyone who helps make your stay in hospital lovely, from the catering staff to the cleaning team.
5. A beautiful body wash
Isn’t smell one of the most evocative senses, whisking you right back to a moment in time? Like the perfume you wore on your first date? Or the pine tar body wash you used when you had chicken pox at 19? So, do you really want to use hospital soap?
My husband gave me this beautiful bottle of Aesop Rose, Cardamom & Black Pepper body wash and I cracked it open in the birthing suite the night I went in to be induced, then used in the days in hospital after my son was born. I use it at home now and one whiff transports me back to those first transformative days when I became a mum.
Listen to the full episode of our pregnancy podcast all about the final month, below. Post continues.
6. An emery board
Some newborns manage to come out with the sharpest nails! My son scratched his face so deeply I can still see the scar, eight months later. One of the midwives recommended one of those tiny emery boards, like the ones you get in hotel vanity kits.
The reason? Apparently those newborn nails are too soft/bendy to cut, plus it’s such high-stakes parenting, cutting their nails for the first time! You’ll be able to use that emery board at home for the first few weeks, and then when you progress to tiny baby nail clippers, my hot tip is cut their nails while they nap.
Bonus items: to be left next to your bag (in a discreet second bag)
Adult nappies and a disposable puppy pad
Okay, hear me out: I also live at least 30 minutes from my maternity hospital, or perhaps 45 minutes in peak hour. I had this absolute phobia about needing to poo on the way to hospital (because that’s a thing, right?) and being stuck in peak-hour traffic and not being able to get to a service station toilet (plus, service station toilets at any time? Eeeeew.)
One of my colleagues who heard, over and over again, of my fear, kindly went out and bought me a packet of adult nappies while another got me a disposable “Kylie” – which is the same thing as the puppy pads you can by for toilet training puppies. Armed with all this absorbency next to my hospital bag, I could rest easy. Or as easy as an overdue pregnant woman can.
There you have it! It might not be as glamorous as a handbag flat lay with Tom Ford perfume, Charlotte Tilbury lipstick and an iPhone X but trust me; you’ll treasure these items more than any luxury make up or the latest tech piece.
To all of the mums-to-be out there, good luck! And if there’s ever a time to go crazy for garlic sauce on your falafel it’s now. I promise you, NO ONE is going to be concerned with the state of your breath.