Saturday, August 21, 2010

List of the Essentials

Today HW and I finally made it to the movies, to see Toy Story 3 (highly recommended). I noticed during the movie that HW seemed very uncomfortable at times, and was gripping her belly and taking deep breaths; as though she might be having initial contractions! It turned out this wasn't the case, but I was reminded that our due date is just two weeks away, and we haven't even packed for the hospital yet! So I'm going to do that this weekend, and I just remembered we already have a list of everything we'll need. A friend of mine in England just had a baby boy a couple of months ago, so I thought I'd ask her if she had any last minute advice for HW and she was kind enough to send me us some GREAT information and a load of lists, so I thought I'd share those all here, as they were so useful:

For the Hospital Bag:

• T-shirt/nightie for labour
• Dressing Gown
• Slippers
• Socks
• Camera and/or videocamera
• Hairband (invaluable)
• Comfortable shoes
• Evian face spray (or a cheaper cooling spray)
• Arnica (used for bruising, I had some on my arms from various injections/blood taking etc)
• Dextro energy tablets
• Boiled sweets (gas and air can taste funny)
• Soothing music to listen to
• Disposable pants
• Big knickers/panties
• Maternity sanitary pads (need a LOT of these, at least 6 or 7)
• Sanitary bags
• Breast pads
• Nursing bras
• Front opening nightie (if breast-feeding)
• Toiletries
• Toothbrush and toothpaste
• Tissues
• Lip Balm
• Tea Tree oil & empty 50cl water bottle - fill with luke warm water whenever you go to the loo and drop in a couple of drops of the tea tree oil then pour over your "bits" as you pee or just after
• Lansinoh Lanolin cream
• DARK towels (eg. 1 hand towel and 1 bath towel)
• Comfy clothes to go home in
• Make up if you're worried about looking good!
• Money for phone card, newspaper etc….
• No brainer book/magazine if you are waiting for things to happen.
• Phone with charger

Labour Tips:

-In terms of breathing, you need to say 'breathe with me' and breathe obviously and a little more slowly than normal. There are also massages you can find online that will help. I didn't do any particular breathing exercises. There are also CDs you can use that are meditative, envisioning your child and breathing more deeply. I can't make any recommendations on that front as I didn't use. The only thing I will say is you will be surprised how long it all takes and something to amuse you both between contractions can be a good idea - cards, a book, something to take your mind off it! Although my contractions were too close to one another for most of the process for me to do much!

For baby at the hospital:

• Towel
• Nappies / Diapers (pack quite a few)
• Cotton wool – hospitals frown on wet-wipes
• Couple of muslin clothes
• 5x vest bodysuits
• 5x sleepsuits
• Hat
• Scratch mitts
• Blanket/shawl
• Teddy bear!
• Have going home outfit (probably just another babygro, and coat ready for hubbie to bring in)
• Booties (If wearing an outfit)
• If you plan to bottle feed I think you have to provide bottles and formula.
• Also make sure car-seat is already fully fitted, ready to take baby home!

For baby at home:

• Mattress
• Mobile
• Changing mat and cheap towels to keep bottoms warm!
• Night-light
• Curtains with blackout lining or Blackout blind (something we may invest in in the near future)
• Baby monitor
• Bouncy chair
• Room thermometer
• Grobags (baby sleeping bags), invaluable in the heat. Also, stop baby kicking blankets off.
• Moses basket and bedding (4 flat sheets and a couple of top sheets and coverlet)
• Couple of toys! (we recommend Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes)
• Pram/pushchair
• Sun parasol
• Raincover (probably not necessary in San Diego)
• Car seat
• Sunscreens for car
• Baby carrier
• Changing bag
• Breast pads
• Steriliser ( needed for pump/bottles for expressed milk and dummies)
• Bottle brush
• Bottle and teats
• Breast pump
• Formula (have a couple of ready made cartons even if you plan to breastfeed)
• Muslins
• Bibs (if bottle feeding, plastic backed ones recommended to stop the milk soaking through to clothes)
• Infacol drops (for bringing up wind, they’re fine from birth and can be very useful)
• Baby wipes (Huggies Pure are very good)
• Baby shampoo
• Body wash
• Cotton wool pads
• Sudocrem
• Nappies
• Nappy sacks
• Nail clippers/scissors
• Bath thermometer
• Bath sponge
• Wash cloth
• Bath support
• Baby bath
• Brush and comb
• Bath towels
• Bodysuits
• Sleepsuits (go for ones with poppers and ones don't involve putting it over the head)
• Cardigan
• Socks
• Scratch mitts (many sleepsuits have in-built ones)
• Shawl/blanket
• Little rocker chair and activity mat also really useful.

Recommended books:

1. "Your Baby Week by Week" by Simone Cave, pretty much as it says on the tin. Obviously a bit UK-centric, talking about Child Benefit etc but also tells you stuff like how many nappies to expect per day. Nice little bitesize chunks per week.
2. "Baby's First Skills" by Dr Miriam Stoppard, activities you can do with baby to develop them based on their age.
3. The What To Expect website is also a fantastic resource, with a great online community, daily email service, and messageboard!

Diaper Tips:

-They are able to aim with surprising accuracy and will often pee as soon as you take off the nappy. Another bit of advice is to undo the tape, allow air to circulate and put lay nappy back on top for thirty secs to prevent that. Clothing with poppers at the crotch is easiest!

Additional Advice:

-Throwing up is a 'good' sign and entirely normal during the birth.
-Try putting the car seat in the car a few times before baby is born. Also, practise collapsing and putting up the buggy/pram.
-Also, you'll be surprised by how quickly they grow, don't go overboard with first sizes (newborn), they are only in them for a couple of weeks and some babies are too big straight away. Some babies from our group are already into 3-6 months, although they are between the ages of seven weeks and three months. You'll probably be gifted a lot in those sizes, I wish we hadn't bought more than a couple.
-The pushing phase of labour feels very much like you really need a poo. You may evacuate your bowels but that feeling is more about baby
-Birth plans are useful to go through what you would like (or not like) to happen, but very few people I know follow it to the letter
-Gas and air don't work for everyone; be prepared to be forceful enough to ask for next level of painkiller if necessary, before its too late!
-Newborn must be woken every two to three hours for a feed (and that's start to start of feed, so if baby starts feed at 2am, the next begins around 5am, regardless of how long the feed takes) Our baby slept through on our first night at home which I thought was good; turns out that in fact he was being lazy, not waking for a feed. He lost a lot of weight and was quite dehydrated. I thunk that phase passes after the first fortnight and they can go six hours overnight
-Most babies do lose a little bit of weight after they are born.
-If you are breastfeeding, I found the first three weeks really hard work, whether because it hurt or because baby wanted to feed what felt like all the time. It got infinitely easier after that and now it is so much more convenient.
-Always pack a spare pack of clothing in the baby's changing bag. They are going to poop/spew/have a leaky nappy if you don't!
-Have a support network. try to find other mums who have babies at the same sort of time, ie within a month or so of you. It helps to have other people you can benchmark against.
-That first two weeks was pretty nightmarish, baby didn't want to sleep in his Moses basket, would only sleep on me and didn't go to sleep much at night. IT DOES GET BETTER!! Persisting with a bedtime routine has helped, and not engaging with him for night feeds.
-Babies smell amazing when they come out!
-Prepare your meals the night before, or in the morning or when you get a chance, particularly if you are breastfeeding. You will end up being stuck on the couch for long stretches.
-Finally, sort of counter to all this advice, listen to what everyone has to say, smile and nod and then go your own way! You'll get so much conflicting advice, particularly around feeding which seems to be an area of contention and you'll know what works for your baby.
-All in all, make the most of all of the different things that happen, I know it's a cliche but it really does race by and baby will change so quickly! I can't believe how much I adore him

Right, I'd better go and pack that hospital bag!


  1. You sound very well prepared! Good job on watching the Business of Being Born.

    Bear in mind hospitals aren't particularly geared to natural deliveries and will often pressure for the Pitocin. At least 80 percent of vaginal births are augmented with it in hospitals around here.

    I don't know if it's too late, but I'd recommend looking at taking a hypno birthing class if you have the opportunity. I wish I'd done it before I'd had my last baby.

    If I can be of any help afterwards, do drop me an email. I know many women feel a bit abandoned after they've had a baby here (they don't have health visitors as in the UK.) I can help with breastfeeding (qualified breastfeeding counselor) and have contacts if you have any baby blues issues. Hope for an easy, happy, lovely birth for you :)

  2. Oh! And the most important thing in labour is to try to keep active and upright throughout labour if you can. Walk and walk. Maybe get a birth ball (a regular bouncy gym ball will do, they're cheap on Amazon but the hospital /should/ have them on request.)

    Staying upright makes a huge difference to speed and pain levels in delivery.

    Sorry if I'm being annoying. I'll leave you alone, but if you do need anything, you can FB me.

  3. Really good list.

    If you are choosing to breastfeed, here's a few tips:

    > The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be tough going but it really gets a LOT easier with perseverance. It may be a struggle in the first few days though. (And I'm here if you want me, if it is!)

    > Feed on demand. This means the baby is quietly alert or in light sleep, making mouthing gestures, turning head towards nipple or gentle crying. Trying to feed a screaming or sleeping newborn is really hard so best to calm them and get them into a quiet alert phase. Try not to worry about schedules, just about your baby's feeding cues.

    > Cluster feeding is very common and normal. This might mean lots of very close together, long feeds (or one long feed) particularly in the evening. The more you feed, the more milk is produced.

    > I would seriously consider /not/ buying formula 'just in case.'

    Your baby won't starve (with all the 24 hour pharmacies around here!) but having formula around does statistically threaten breastfeeding - that's partly why giving formula samples out in hospital is illegal in the UK.

    It's very tempting in the middle of the night to give 'just one formula feed' and then milk supply drops and other issues happen. (See how many formula adverts are on tv in the middle of the night!) If you have it in the house, it does make it much more likely you'll reach for it when you don't need to, with knock on effects on feeding in general.

    IMO, you actually need very, very little with a newborn. A few clothes, nappies and you're away. Bottles, sterilisers, pumps etc. really unnecessary in the beginning.

    It's much better not to introduce bottles until feeding is very well established, otherwise you risk nipple confusion and dropping milk supply. If you /have/ to offer formula, then consider cup feeding or spoon feeding rather than going anywhere near bottles.

    Hope this is helpful!

    Pain relief:
    You know you won't get gas and air in hospital here? It's drugs or nothing :/

    However, water is incredibly pain relieving (bath or shower)
    and TENS is a brilliant, natural option which is very commonplace in the UK but almost unheard of here. I used TENS with all my babies and would have KILLED anyone who tried to take it away. I have an Elle maternity unit if you'd like to try/borrow it (got a nice fresh new set of electrodes you can have too) :)