Packing the dreaded hospital bag is one of the million things a nesting mother has on her list before she gives birth.
Don’t let it drag, ensure you have packed your hospital bag by 37 weeks (although we know you’ll start earlier).
In this article, we’ll focus on preparation for the birthing mother. Because let’s face it, your baby needs clothes and diapers – and you. We’ll include a section at the end of the article about packing for your newborn.
Preparing for Giving Birth
Before we delve into the checklist of stuff that you’d expect, we wanted to touch base on one important point. Whatever happens, we live in 2023 and everything we need is often at the click of a button. One thing we can’t get on Amazon Prime is our own physical, mental and emotional preparedness.
Preparation of self is key – and the most important aspect of that is preparing yourself for giving birth. So many of us feel ‘in the dark’ when it comes to giving birth.
Antenatal resources can be a great way of preparing for birth. Courses and books on the topic often start by teaching the science behind childbirth.
Many mothers feel that gaining a deeper understanding of the process of childbirth can help them feel more empowered and secure when giving birth. Hypnobirthing can also be a great way of understanding our bodies and learning techniques to help promote a smooth labor.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing has a terrible name. Some assume it’s a hippie-birthing trend involving hypnosis and giving birth in a trance-like state. But that could not be further from reality.
Hypnobirthing is about creating a calm and empowering environment for the birthing mother. The goal is to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain during labor and have a more positive birth experience.
Most people assume hypnobirthing is solely for mothers giving birth vaginally and without intervention or painkillers. This is completely untrue and hypnobirthing techniques can be taken into any birth scenario; from home births, birth centres, labor wards and at the operating table.
We’ve put together a full list of items you can add to your packing list. If you are considering hypnobirthing, we hope you’ll find this helpful!
Hospital Bag Essentials for Hypnobirthing
Less is definitely more when packing your hospital bag. Don’t overpack for giving birth. You’ll thank yourself when it’s 3 am and your birth partner is trying to find maternity pads in the labor ward. About that… pack your hospital bag with your birth partner. Or at least ensure they know where everything is.
Creating your birthing nest
The hormones oxytocin (the love hormone) and adrenaline (the stress hormone) play a huge part in birthing your baby. Essentially, oxytocin promotes labor and adrenaline inhibits labor.
Hypnobirthing is all about promoting the release of oxytocin to help ease your labor. It can be helpful to dim the lights and create a calm, warm and comfortable space so that you feel at ease in the lead-up to your birth.
Battery-powered fairy lights or tea lights – ensure they are warm white to give a warm cozy feel to the room.
A relaxing scent – having a smell that is familiar and relaxing to you can make all the difference. This can be as simple as a pillow spray that you use or lavender essential oil.
Wireless speakers – creating a relaxing playlist can calm and promote oxytocin production.
Packing List for Hypnobirthing Moms
The goal is always to make your birthing experience as stress-free and as relaxing as possible – whatever your birth looks like.
Your birth plan and preferences – Ensure everyone in the room knows your preferences. Your birth partner is your advocate.
TENS machine – Helpful to ease contractions. Some like it, and some hate it. Don’t use it until you’re in labor as you can build up a tolerance.
Earphones – wireless earphones are great for labor. Noise-canceling options can help you zone out fully and focus on your labor.
Snacks – You’ll never regret snacks. Non-perishable snacks like dried fruits and cereal bars can give you a great energy boost in labor.
Lip balm – The air is DRY and even drier with gas and air!
Clary Sage essential oil – can increase your contractions. You can use these in labor to encourage your contractions to come more regularly.
Lavender essential oil – so great for relaxation. If you add a few drops to a tissue and sniff, add to a portable diffuser or mix with a base oil and use as a massage oil (coconut oil works well!)
A comfortable pillow – the hospital pillows are irritatingly hollow. Take your own
Post-birth Hospital Packing List
After you give birth, think of nothing but comfort.
Comfortable PJS– button-down works well for breastfeeding and changing your incision dressing if you’ve had a c-section.
Cozy slippers or flip-flops (or both) – because nobody wants to walk around a hospital barefoot. Slippers can be handy for comfort, but flip-flops are great for bathroom trips and in the shower.
A dressing gown – or something comfortable to wear.
An eye mask – your baby isn’t the only sleep thief, hospital lights are bright.
Underwear – think Bridget Jones style. And size up!
Nursing bras – if you plan to breastfeed your baby. If not, ensure you have an unwired, comfortable bra (if any).
Maternity pads – take a whole pack just in case. The bigger the better. Think ‘tiny mattress’ and you’re good to go.
Breast pads – you probably won’t need these in the hospital unless you’re staying a few days. But best to be safe than sorry!
Toiletries – toothbrush/paste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body and face wash. Don’t overpack, but if you want to include some luxuries that will help you feel a little more human, then do.
Soft portable night light – can be useful for night feeds and for providing dim lighting in the hospital.
Comfortable going home outfit – you’ll need something super loose and comfortable for your trip home.
Baby Hospital Packing List
Your baby won’t be doing any hypnobirthing – but a birth packing list would not be complete without a list for the baby. For clothing, you may want to bring a few sizes to ensure you have something that fits your little one.
Cotton wool balls – great for wiping baby with warm water while their skin is so fresh and sensitive.
Extra virgin olive oil in a small container – this one sounds a little strange, but hear us out. Olive oil is amazing for baby’s skin and is great for removing meconium (baby’s VERY sticky first few poos). It forms a protective layer and makes future sticky poos easier to wipe.
4 Cotton Bodysuits – great for layering under a sleepsuit. Opt for natural and soft fibres on your baby’s sensitive skin.
4 Cotton Sleepsuits – footed sleepsuits are best for newborns. They can’t regulate their temperatures and footed options will help make sure they don’t lose too much body heat.
Muslins – muslins squares are great for basically anything you are doing with your newborn. From feeding to winding, and then swaddling and sleeping. They are fantastic for absorbing scent so babies often find them extra comforting.
Blanket – a sweet little blanket to bring your little one home in. Consider the season – opt for lighter fabrics like cotton and bamboo newborn blankets in the summer and something thicker such as lambswool, cashmere or sherpa fleece for the winter months.
Going home outfit – Again with the going home outfit, ensure you take into account the weather where you are. You might need to opt for a thicker hat and booties and more layers if you live in colder climates.
We hope you’ve found this list helpful and we hope it has given you some guidance as to what you need in your hospital bag when you are using hypnobirthing techniques.
It’s a good idea to call ahead and find out what the rules are for setting up and creating a hypnobirthing-friendly space depending on whether you are having a vaginal birth, caesarean section, water birth etc. The rules will be different for each. Ask ahead so you are aware of the facilities they have in the room.
It’s also important to ensure your birth partner(s) have packed your hospital bags with you (or at least been briefed as to the contents!).
It is completely normal in late pregnancy to overpack and stress about ensuring you have every last thing that you could possibly need. Remember, you can always order a few more things or ask someone you know to drop some supplies off.
More importantly, trust your body and trust the birthing process. Whether you have a vaginal birth or a c-section, you have the power within you to bring your baby into the world. So, take a deep breath, and trust that you got this!
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