Anyone who has read the story of Louis’s arrival will know that I did something idiotic. So convinced was I that I would be birthing at home, that all would go smoothly, that I didn’t pack a ‘just in case’ bag. I considered it an admission that it might not work out, and chose instead to commit to the idea of home birth 100%.
So when unexplained bleeding meant an ambulance was called, I was literally sent packing. In labour. At 8cm dilated.
If anything, this time I am more confident that my planned home birth will work out perfectly. But I also know that on the off chance I need to go in, being packed is an advantage. I also recognise that even when baby is probably born happily at home, it will be quite useful having everything that’s immediately required in one place.
So I’ve at least started packing, and want to share with you what’s gone in. You can find a tonne of lists online to guide you, this is just my personal trove…
I’m going to whizz through what’s in there for baby, and focus on what’s in there for me… #selfishmother
4 vests, 4 sleepsuits, 4 pairs of socks, 2 hats, a cardigan, a woolen all in one, a blanket, 12 nappies, cotton wool, umbilical cord tie
That’s it. They are simple creatures, newborns, and this allows for plenty of meconium leaks etc before back up clothing would be required. And the hospital is about a mile from my house, and not much more from a super size Tesco.
For me (the basics):
Pack of humongous sanitary pads, pack of disposable briefs (just because they exist I feel I need to use them- not sure why and they will probably stay in the packet), breast pads, nursing bra, LANSINOH (even though I know I won’t really need it until a couple of days in most likely, the comfort of having it on hand is bringing me confidence #miraclemagic), couple of sets of button front pjs, couple of vest tops, socks, normal knickers, face wipes, hair ties and grips (keep that stuff out of my face), leggings and comfy long layers for travelling home.
And onto the good stuff:
Aromatherapy oils- I always tell my clients that our sense of smell is a powerful asset in labour. It’s strongly linked to our limbic system, our instincts, our memories and emotions. Consider how a whiff of suncream can give you that holiday feeling, or how a perfume instantly conjures up a friend who uses it. Hospitals do not smell great. Portable smell is a great plan for creating a bubble of calmness. Even at home, this is a tool we shouldn’t disregard.
So what have I got?
Lavender, well known for its calming qualities, I’ve been conditioning myself to its relaxing effect through the pregnancy. Eucalyptus, a weird recent craving that started with a soy candle, developed into a need to be chewing airwaves at all times, and settled with this huge bottle of oil being sprinkled around me regularly. Something about it appeals to me, it’s fresh and comforting. And clary sage- thought to increase the intensity/ frequency of uterine surges. There’s not really any evidence, of course. Anecdotally it’s popular. I won’t be cracking it open unless labour stalls and I would like a little nudge. Some people use it through the final weeks of pregnancy in an effort to get labour going, or breathe it in/ have it massaged in throughout labour to keep the pace up. For me, there’s no need to overstimulate my uterus or prompt it to get going before it’s ready, but nice to have as a back up plan.
**Any essential oil use should be checked with a qualified aromatherapist and/ or your midwife.**
Little luxuries- my fave Eve Lom lip balm. I intend to stay well hydrated in labour with
plenty to drink, but all that breathing through your mouth can still be drying. Hand cream- Neal’s Yard Wild Rose. My hands are always dry and resemble those of a woman 3 times my age. I find it distracting, so like to have a lovely option close by. And this “relaxation remedy”, also by Neal’s Yard, designed to be rolled into pressure points on your body, another trigger to be calm and soothed.
My YesMum Mum-To-Be cards. Positive affirmation cards to keep my mind on track. Some of my favourites pictured here. I consider myself well rehearsed in positive affirmation about labour and birth, but a few reminders can only be a good thing, and they will be helpful prompts for hubs too.
Magnesium spray- lots of us experience leg cramps in pregnancy, and this could be down to magnesium deficiency. A topical spray is one of the quickest ways to replenish levels, to repair and relax muscles and I try to remember to coat the soles of my feet before bed. Could be really useful in labour.
Silk eye mask- in case I need to have a sleep/ really zone out and it’s not dark enough.
A stash of Nakd products. These bars and nibbles contain up to 55% dates, which are shown, with regular consumption from around 36 weeks of pregnancy, to reduce the need for induction, or augmentation of labour. Magic dates. They are an acquired taste, but thankfully I’ve put some effort into this acquisition, and they are the first thing on my mind when I sense the first wave of hunger rising.
Things I’ve realised I still need to buy…
Bottles of water, some plain and some flavoured, lucozade sport (as a last resort), chocolate (lots of varieties of), starburst (I don’t know why, just feel I have to have them), some husband favourites (nuts and haribo probably. He also likes red bull in this sort of endurance scenario, but we all know it stinks, and I can’t have that in the room.) Ginger biscuits (all I fancied last time, alongside a nice brew).
I also need to print my birth plan.
And for our best case scenario of seeing it all through at home, let’s whip through what else I will have on hand.
Birth ball (need to top up the inflation), the pool (STILL need to do a dry/wet run…), treats for the midwife, shower curtains on the floor, plenty of towels, hot water bottle, CD player, candles (loads), paracetamol for those much lamented after pains everyone keeps telling me about, and importantly, champagne in the fridge. Could try and sneak this into my bag I suppose, but no point drinking it warm.
So there you go, my packing/ prepping rundown. What have I forgotten? Let me have your top secret picks, and/ or the blatantly obvious things I have missed…