How to prepare for your hospital stay
Although the pregnancy itself may come on suddenly, there are many ways to prepare for a hospital stay.
- Do a dry run to the hospital with whoever is driving you so don’t have to navigate while having contractions. If you are comfortable and confident that the direction you’re heading is the right one, you’ll be able to focus on staying calm.
- Schedule a visit to the hospital to look around. If the hospital has a prenatal class, go to it. As part of the class they often show you the different areas within the maternity ward, where to go when you check in, and let you talk to the midwives (if they’re not overwhelmed with births that day). By becoming familiar with the hospital environment and procedure, you take away part of the fear of the unknown.
- Pack your bag, and pack it soon. Don’t leave this job until the last minute or you’ll forget things.
My list of absolute essentials are;
Nipple balm –This versatile balm is used for both lips and nipples. Lip balm was an essential for me while labouring with my daughter, and nipple balm is an essential after the birth of your child. At times it feels as though they’re too sensitive for any clothing at all. Nipple balm will create a protective coating helping you to cope with having your breasts covered.
A water bottle –Try and find one that has a straw or a pop top attachment. It’s a lot easier to stay hydrated if you don’t have to undo the lid and take a swig of water whilst anticipating the next wave of contractions.
Compression knickers –These help you feel like everything is going back into place get some compression underwear. It’s not super sexy, but it will make you feel more comfortable and less like something (or someone) is missing.
Comfortable breastfeeding bras –Choose one that you can sleep in. During your hospital stay, your breasts will change shape, change sensitivity, and it’s likely that your milk will come in. Needless to say, they’ll be sore. Having a comfortable bra not only helps to keep your comfortable, it also protects your nipples from abrasive clothing at their most sensitive.
Breast pump –If you have your own breast pump, my suggestion is that you take it with you to the hospital. You can work out how to use it in the supportive environment of the maternity ward, and get used to how it works before you’re home on your own.
Nice pyjamas –If you’re going to be in hospital for a few days, do something to help you to feel bright and positive. Also, it’s likely that you’ll have visitors, so choose something you don’t mind being seen in (https://nursing-angel.myshopify.com/belabumbum-dottie-robe).
Baby’s going home outfit –Pick out something cute that you want those first car ride, and first “at home” photos to be taken. There are lots of adorable non gender specific outfits out there for those who don’t know if they’re having a boy or a girl.
Your going home outfit –Again, think of the fact that there will likely be photos, but also think about what you’ll be comfortable in. One of the most stunning going home mums I’ve seen is Princess Kate. She chooses simple flowing dresses that are flattering, without being constricting on her new mum body. The Womama wrap dress and the ballet bamboo dress are two gorgeous simple options.
Something to ease the way –My daughter had been eyeing off this super cute rabbit in the store for months before our new baby was born. I secretly bought one for him to give to her when he was born. While she already loved him, I believe this gave her an extra little kick in the protective and loving big sister direction.
My final piece of advice is make the most of your stay. While you’re in hospital, ask lots of questions, get help to learn how to breastfeed, change nappies, bath baby and use your breast pump. If the hospital offers you a short break of a couple of hours without baby, take it. Have a sleep! It may be your last one for a couple of years…