There’s no doubt that the hospital bag can feel overwhelming to pack! But make sure you do it before 35 weeks and include these 8 items, as recommended by me – Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Anna Scammell. You will be relieved to have them all when the time comes!
1. Obstetric TENS Machine
My clients have termed the TENS machine a “life saver” during labour! TENS stands for “Transcutaneous Electrical Neuro-Stimulation”. It works via the ‘pain gate theory’ i.e. blocking nerve pain pathways to your brain during contractions. It’s designed to use in first stage of labour so you might just go into hospital with it already on your back rather than in your bag! I hire out TENS machines, so email me here if you’d like to hire one. Express post is available for anyone outside of Sydney. I recommend hiring from about 36/37 weeks.
2. Birth Preferences Print Out
Write down your birth preferences (I prefer this term over “birth plan”) and print it out for the midwives/OB who are working the day you go into labour. Your birth preferences should include details of what you want and what you don’t want e.g. birth positions, pushing technique, coached pushing vs intuitive pushing, no epidural or standard vs walking epidural, no instruments or forceps vs suction, episiotomy vs tearing, gaining consent, cord clamping, skin on skin etc. You should also write out your birth preference if you are having an elective c-section or end up with an emergency c-section.
3. Drink Bottle with Straw
Keeping hydrated during labour is really important, so if you have a straw and good quality drink bottle, it’s going to be much easier for you to take sips of water. I love the Frank Green drink bottles. Have your birth partner remind you to keep taking sips during labour. After birth, you need to drink 3L of fluid per day, so this is another good reason to invest now.
4. Partum Panties
Partum Panties are the best post-birth panties I have come across. They’re comfy, have a stretchy waistband, inbuilt pad that holds more blood than pads and can be removed by tearing the sides, so overall a much better option than bulky uncomfortable maternity pads. Use the code THEWHOLEMOTHER10 to get 10% off your order.
5. Perineal Ice Pack
Whether you have stitches or not, the perineal ice pack (I stock Femme-eze) are a saviour for pain, swelling and heaviness in those first few days to week. Put one in a ziplock bag with your name on it and ask the midwife to put one in the hospital freezer. Use for 20mins every couple of hours especially during the first 72 hours post-birth, continuing longer if you still feel pain, swelling or heaviness.
6. SRC Recovery Garment
SRC shorts/leggings provide medical grade compression over your abdominals, pelvic floor and c-section incision, which is essential for healing. Try to wear them day 1-3 after a vaginal birth and day 5-7 post c-section. They should be tight but comfortable. I stock these garments, so email me here if you’d like to be fitted for a pair.
7. Healthy snacks
We all know that hospital food is less than desirable, so make sure you pack yourself some healthy snacks. Also pack snacks which promote bowel movements, such a kiwi fruit, berries, soft fruit, porridge sachet, protein balls, nuts and seeds. Meals4mummas have a great offering where they deliver healthy, healing meals to the hospital! Use the code THEWHOLEMOTHER10 to get 10% off your order.
If you’ve a 3rd or 4th degree tear you will need to take a laxative post-birth. If you are prone to constipation and have a smaller tear then it’s a good idea to still take one because the last thing we want is you straining after you’ve just given birth! While the hospital stocks laxatives, packing the type that works for you is a good idea.
Now that you’ve got your hospital bag sorted, it’s time to learn how to look after yourself post-birth to feel better faster! Plus how to start moving safely post-birth to regain strength. You can learn all of this via the education & exercise videos in my online postpartum program, The Postpartum Academy – click here to check it out!