Packing your hospital bag for birth
There's a million blogs out there telling you what to pack in your hospital bag with the usual lists of things to pack for mum and baby. I'm of the belief that you're a pretty smart individual and can work out how many pairs of knickers to pack for a couple of nights away so I'm not going to cover the basics. Suffice to say, pack clothes that you feel super comfortable in and allow for easy access to your boobs if you're going to breastfeed. Go for function over form. Practicality over style.
Or hey, if baby brain has well and truly kicked in, see the resources at the end for your standard list.
Instead, I want to talk about three things to go put in your hospital bag right now if they aren't already in there. Not only are they useful in keeping you comfortable during your stay, they might even help you birth your baby!
1. Your own pillow
I've never known a hospital pillow to be as comfortable as your own and it can be used before, during and after birth. Enough said.
BONUS TIP: pop a drop of your favourite essential oil or scent on the corner of your pillow. Smell is a powerful way to access our limbic system and connect to positive emotions and feelings of wellbeing. If you don't have any essential oils, ask your doula to raid her stash!
2. Your favourite snacks and drinks
While most of us know Its super important to stay hydrated during labour, did you also know that eating your favourite food or sipping your favourite drink may also make labour less painful? Here's a tip to cope with contractions in early labour: during a contraction mindfully eat a square of your most indulgent chocolate (or whatever floats your boat). Focus all your attention on how it tastes, what it feels like in your mouth. If it's crunchy, what does it sound like? Use as many of your senses to describe in your mind what you are slowly eating. This is just one way of providing mental distraction from the pain and reducing the amount of pain signals being sent to your brain. Obviously you can't eat a square of chocolate for every contraction, but its certainly an option to try occasionally.
Also think about what you might like your first meal after birth to be. A hospital sandwich that's been sitting around or something tasty and nutritious you can bring from home? Reward yourself for your hard work!
PS Yes you are allowed to eat and drink during labour! See the evidence on eating and drinking during labour
3. Small objects from home that bring you joy and happy memories.
Set them up around your hospital room and place some in the bathroom too if you have access to your own. Items could include photos, a memento from a favourite holiday, something with your favourite scent or even the wedding ring on your hand. Not only will they help turn a foreign environment into a more homely atmosphere where you feel safer, they can also help with pain management. When you look at them, reconnect with the happy memories they provide. Again providing distraction from the work of labour and encouraging your brain to release your body's natural oxytocin and pain-relieving endorphins.
BONUS TIP: Practise looking at, touching and smelling these objects while you are pregnant to help train your brain into automatically releasing those endorphins. Yep, you're going to Pavlov's Dogs yourself!
Are you looking for further information on the topics discussed in this blog? Here you go!
Your Brain in Birth
The Role of Hormones in Birth
Women's & Children's Hospital List of What to Pack
Leave a Comment below and let others know what you found handy to take to hospital
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Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.