Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Hospital Bag Essentials !

This is probably the most exciting things in late pregnancy. I have known the feeling when packing a bag makes you feel you are in control ! (Well for a while anyway!)
I think its wise to start thinking of your hospital bag from 30 weeks and finally get it packed and ready by 36 weeks. Some women might just give birth at 37 weeks so its always safe to have it packed and ready by 35 to 36 weeks.

Today I am sharing my list of Hospital bag essentials.
Stuff that I Packed in my bag and stuff that I forgot so hubby had to run and get them for me !

First things first , here is my hospital bag!
I didn't want it to be a like a big travel bag or a suitcase so I went and got myself a nice overnight bag from Primark !
I didn't want to spend too much on a bag I may not use too often so Primark fit the bill.

I decided early on that I want my bag and baby's bag packed separately.
So that its easy for hubby to locate things when I need them. Also for the baby I didn't buy another travel bag , instead I packed everything in her changing bag that I had already bought from Mothercare.

So here goes my list -

1. Birth Plan & Maternity Notes 

This is the first thing you must pack. Even if you forget everything else your MAT notes are a must !
A birth plan is basically your wishes for the birth, something written down for your birth partner and Doctor / Midwife to know about. It should include things like 
  • Where to give birth
  • Your views on pain relief - do you want to go all natural and no pain relief or do you want it all ( Like I did ). Some women prefer no epidural. Do read about all your options on pain relief for a normal or C-sec what ever is applicable.
  • If you want to use a birthing pool ?
  • Assisted delivery - use of forceps or vacuum (Ventouse) to help baby out in case of emergencies or when you are really tired to push.

2. Old Night gown or a T-shirt dress 

It is always comfortable to have something of your own to wear when you are in labour. I found that the hospital gowns are quite uncomfortable and you feel like a patient in them ! Make sure its old or a cheap one because things will get messy and you will have to bin it after the baby is born.
I wore an old T shirt dress for my labour.

3. A dressing gown

You will probably need this as a cover up to walk around the hospital if that's what you need for pain relief during the start of your contractions. And maybe later after the baby is born when you have visitors!  

4. Lip Balm / Chap stick

Always have one, its a life saver ! All that pain and contractions they make your mouth go dry. Specially if you take the Gas & Air pain relief option.

5. TENS Machine

A TENS machine is a small portable, battery-operated device which is worn on the body. The box is attached by wires to sticky pads stuck to the skin. Small electrical pulses are transmitted to the body, like little electric shocks. This can help to ease pain in some people with certain types of pain. For early contraction pain relief a TENS machine is really good! But please hire one at least 4 weeks in advance because it often takes time to arrive. Unless you just want to buy one (which I think is a bit expensive specially if you only have one baby in mind.)  A TENS Machine is attached to your lower back with the help of patches and you control when you want the pain relief. It is quite a handy thing to have.

6. Hair bands

If you have long locks you will want your hair out of the way and tied up for labour.

7. Candies

To chew on and to keep you going. Remember you will not be eating anything else for as long as your labour lasts (mine was awfully long 36 Hours). Good news is you wont need it ! With all that pain who will be thinking about food ?

8. Front Opening Night Shirts or Gowns

These are good for those night time feedings ! You will probably want something loose as a top , if you are planning to wear jammies with them. If you have had a C sec then long front buttoned night gowns will be best.

9. Jammies (Pyjamas) or Yoga Pants

It would be a great idea to buy some loose and cotton blended jammies or yoga pants. Make sure they are a breathable fabric specially if you are delivering in summer. I bought myself some 3-4 of them before I delivered. STOCK UP !!!

10. Nursing Bras

Always a good idea to have some in stock ! I took 2 of those in my hospital bag. A tip I got to know from the Mothercare experts was - Buy your nursing bra at or after you are 37 weeks pregnant. Have yourself measured first in store before you guess and start buying something you will regret.
I got mine at 37 weeks but anyone who feels the baby might come sooner may go get it by 36 weeks because by then you gain as many sizes you are supposed to.

11. Sleeping Bras

You don't probably realise this but you definitely need at least 2-3 of these. Sleeping bras are the most comfortable bras I have ever worn! Period ! They are easy to nurse in and also keep your rack comfy and secure. Great for night time. I must confess for the first few weeks I have worn these the whole day !

 12. Anti slip flip-flops or shoes

A must have ! You don't want yourself slipping and falling with your new-born.  

13. Maternity Pads

They are more absorbent than your normal period pads and you sure as hell will need it as things get a bit messy down there and the better quality it is the lesser visits you will have to the loo for changing them and disturbing your stitches (if you have had any). But of course for hygiene reasons it is recommended that you change them at least 4-5 times a day. Carry at least 20-30 of these with you. I took about 3 packs of 10 just in case.

14.Breast pads

Great for those leaky situations if you have an abundant milk supply or good for the cracked nipple situations. Check this post for reviews on the ones I have tried. If you stay in the hospital for longer than 3 days have at least 20 pairs with you in your bag.

15. Nipple Cream

Go for a good one ! Its essential to have a good nipple cream handy. Specially for the first few weeks of breast feeding . Check this post for reviews on the ones I have tried.

16. Disposable Knickers

Think about use and throw! So don't buy new ones instead use old ones and dispose them off. Since there is a lot of blood loss after you give birth it makes sense to use cheap ones or old ones.Keep the new ones for later !

17. Toiletries 

Pack a small pouch with your toiletries such as a bath liquid , loofah, Shampoo, conditioner (trust me you will want to wash your hair after hours of labour) a toothbrush, tooth paste, fragrance free moisturiser and a stretchmark cream. I bought myself travel packs of all of the above so I didn't have to carry like huge amounts.

18. Going Home Outfit

I think its important to have a nice but comfy outfit for yourself too. Everyone will probably be taking pictures so you do want to look presentable don't you ? I wore a maternity dress from New Look

19. Chargers for  all your gadgets

If you are having a planned induction or a planned C-sec , all that waiting would make you impatient and bored ! So bring chargers for your phone , iPad , kindle or what ever gadgets you plan to bring along. And of course don't forget your camera and batteries all charged up for that first picture and countless more to come of your little one.

20. Towel

Don't forget to pack a bath towel for yourself ! Once you have had the baby all you will want is a warm bath, you will need assistance so please take your birth partner with you (Yes all shame is lost after giving birth and its true! ) I couldn't stand at first so it is imperative you take someone along so you don't fall off or faint in the shower!

First off here is the changing bag I used for packing the baby essentials
This bag is from Mothercare. Love the geometric pattern on it and the colour. I picked this one because of its size for the price of 37 £ (a few months back). Also it comes with a handy changing mat for travel which comes in handy every time we go out!  It has lots of pockets - two on each side for bottles and /or food one of which is lined with a silver foil like fabric to keep things warm, a big pocket in the front with multiple mesh ones inside it to hold things (My phone goes in that),one zip pocket at the bag and a few more inside. Which makes it my magical bag with the undetectable extension charm for holding everything just like Hermione from Harry Potter !

Ok now here comes the fun part ! which I know every mother waits for - Packing stuff for the baby !!
I took a picture of what I packed in the bag above when I went for my delivery.
Here it is

TIP : Wash everything ! Right from clothing to blankets give all the clothing a good warm wash in your washing machine before you pack it. Use a non fragrant fabric softener and a non bio washing powder.

So here goes the list of what you need for the baby

1. Sleep suits (If you live somewhere cold )

You need at least 4 or more in your bag just in case you are made to stay in the hospital for more than 2-3 days. I had to stay in the hospital for 5 days , so my bag came up short of clothing ! I had my mum get some from home.

2. Bodysuits

You will need about 4-6 of these. Babies ,if yours is anything like mine , poo a lot! Chances are you are going to have nappy accidents ! So better to carry a few extra pairs.

3. A going home outfit and / or a photo shoot outfit.

Since its a baby I'm sure you are going to take a lot of photos !We have the option of a first day photoshoot in our hospital and I think it was worth it! Since we already knew its a girl I carried a cute little dress for the shoot. Now when you take your newborn home for the first time you would want him/ her to be in a special outfit as well :)

4.Fabric hats

As soon as the baby is born your midwife will ask your birth partner for a hat , just to make the baby cosy and protect its ears and head. I carried about 2-3 of these New born sizes from different stores. turned out to be a good thing because some of them were too small for my little one so we had at least 2 that fit !

5. Scratch Mitts

Those tiny hands are going to have some super sharp nails ! And chances are you will be scared or paranoid to cut them at least for a week or more ! It took me about 10 days to draw the courage to pick up a nail cutter. So do get some mitts to help prevent the baby from scratching itself .

6. A Blanket

The hospital has some really good breathable blankets that they will wrap your baby in but it is always nice to have a nice little blanket of your own. Good for swaddling the baby for a good night's sleep.

7. Baby Towel

For that first bath ! They will tell you to wipe the baby clean with a wet cloth at first. But if you stay in the hospital longer than 3 days like I did then you will want to give your little one a nice warm bath. We (hubby and I) had our first baby bath experience in the hospital and it was such a lovely moment !

8. Muslin Squares

Take about 4 of these!  One for each day. Babies are messy , they will posset , puke or just spit milk out! muslin squares can be used as barf cloth.

9. Pair of booties or socks
To keep those little feet warm and cosy when they are not wearing bodysuits. socks also make good mittens ! something your baby will have hard time removing.

10. Nappies

Quite a few at that ! on an average you might be changing about 8 or more nappies a day. we didn't buy big packs right away , we got small packs of 3 different brands and tried each one to see which suits our little one best and then went ahead and got bigger packs to stock. To be honest this proved to be a good thing because we heard good things about the Aldi Mamia nappies and our little one rejected them out right ! She was uncomfortable and cranky in those. Had quite a bit of nappy rash as well. So now we have moved on to Pampers and Boots own as they both seem to have worked for her.

11. Nappy Rash Cream

Stock up ! Its a must have ! Rash or no rash I apply the cream to keep those tiny bums moisturised and happy !

12. A Pack of sensitive wipes

If your wallet permits go for water wipes they truly are amazing ! I am using them now 99% water and 1 % fruit extracts. Easy on those bums and quite well soaked . This is to be used for major poo accidents.

13. Cotton balls

It is recommended to use cotton with water to clean up your baby when you change the nappy.
You will be told to do so for a while anyway.

14. A cuddly toy

Your Little one wont be playing with it yet but it is recommended to take a cuddly toy anyway as a photo prop ! Make sure its nothing too small or hairy / furry that could have a chocking hazard.
Specially if you are having a photo shoot done in the hospital.

X End of list X

I know this is a long list but I think these are the most important things I thought there were ! A well packed hospital bag will give you a sense of control over things. Specially if you don't trust your partner to find the right things in the right place later :)
Plus its always fun to gather everything ! It makes you feel you are closer to seeing your baby soon and sort of prepares you mentally for what's to come.
So that's it for today
Happy Packing !!


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Top 10 New Mom Must Haves !

When I was pregnant I had no clue of what I needed for myself after the baby arrives. So I went with what the books I read and the people around me told me to buy. 
As a new mom its often a trial and error saga with things.
So after much thought here is my list of the top 10 must haves as a new mom 

1. Netflix or TV Subscription

My number one recommendation would be getting a Netflix or your favourite TV channel subscription all paid for and ready. You might think where is the time ? But remember as a new mom you will be spending most of your nights nursing your new born and keeping yourself awake when your body is screaming for a good night's sleep this is going to be a saving grace. When we brought our little one home from the hospital, I was tired and it just made me cranky every time she would cry her lungs out for a feed (every 2 hours ). It irritated the hell out of me that my husband got to sleep (he claims he cant when she cries) and I was the one who had to wake up to feed her. But soon I realised the best way to go about it would be do something that keeps you awake without being a pain! I have had a really successful night feed routine with the telly on !

2. Nipple cream

No one told me that nursing a new born is going to be challenging and I will be suffering from cracked nipples the first few weeks because my little one will be still learning to latch !
Believe me when I say it , its just the most uncomfortable thing!
A nipple cream is a big help in those difficult days.
These are the ones I have tried.

Photo Credits : Mothercare.com

My first one was the mothercare its your body nipple cream . It is quite light and easy to apply, helps ease the discomfort and successfully softens the skin. However when the cracking has gone to a level of bleeding this cream takes a little time to help the healing process . My verdict would be - this cream is for moms who have established a good latch and have an occasional crack or so.

Photo credits : medela.co.uk

My second cream that I bought was Medela Purelan 100. This was a much better cream for those first few weeks of horrible nipple cracks ! This is much more thicker to apply and yellow in colour which is a bit of a turn off but ... does the job. It heals the sorest of nipples quite quickly provided you apply it religiously. My verdict - Does what it says on the packaging. It is definitely a must have.

3.Lip Balm/ Chap stick

This is something you will need in the hospital itself ! Specially if you are having a normal Vag delivery. You will soon realise all those contractions and pushing makes your mouth and lips dry.
Its always handy to have a chap stick in your hospital bag , Now you don't want to have those lovely lips all dry and cracking for your first kiss to your new born.

4. Breast Pads

Now I knew from everyone around me that this is a must have but no one told me which one to buy ? Should I go for disposable ones or reusable ones ? So many choices and such confusions !
Early on I asked myself do I want to go through the trouble to make sure I have a washed pair of reusable pads ? As lazy as I am the answer to that was a big NO!
So I just went for the obvious , the cheapest I could find in the market.Not a good experience with sore nipples!
Here are a few I tried and liked

Photo Credits : Medela.co.uk

Medela has really thought everything through ! These Breast pads are quite absorbent and I have never felt them go heavy with leaks. My only problem with them was - they seem a bit too dry and its a bit uncomfortable when you forget to apply your nipple cream.

Photo credits : philips.co.uk

These are Phillips Avent Breast pads. I would totally recommend these to anyone ! I found that they were the most comfortable out of all of the brands I have tried so far. I first got a pair of those in my Philips Avent bottle starter kit and after I tried them I just bought few more packs. They are really thoughtfully made and the little tuck on top really makes it comfortable.

5. Maternity Pads

This is another Item that you will need right away ! Hence it makes into this list. Maternity pads are more absorbent than your regular pads. You can go for disposable pants as well.

6. Post Partum Abdominal Belt

This is something that you definitely need from day you deliver! Unless you have had a C-sec , then you must seek your doctor's advice.  The belt is really good support for the back. I found mine on Amazon.

7. Electric Brest Pump

An electric breast pump is definitely a must have! It is such a relief when you have engorged breasts and you can pump out excess milk and store it in a refrigerator for later use. Best part about this is that while you rest your partner, mum or helper can give the baby your milk from a bottle.
I made the mistake of getting a manual pump since it came with a bottle set that I bought , but it was a waste of time , energy and milk !
I then got to use the Hospital version of Medela electric pump and I absolutely loved it ! soon after I ordered my own Medela Swing breast pump. Its such a good investment if you plan to pump quite a bit. It is a bit expensive but having used the hospital one I realised it is probably worth it.
Photo credits : medela.co.uk

8. Poo Softener

You might probably be laughing at this but its definitely a must have !!! The first poo is going to be a difficult one ! Specially if you have had stitches ! Ask your hospital staff for some and buy a bottle for home if needed.

9. Nipple Shield

For any Breast feeding mom this is again a help specially if you have cracked or sore nipples !
These are silicon nipple guards that you can apply on your sore nipples and the baby sucks on them rather than directly to your skin. 
This is definitely a trial and error thing, it might be that your little one doesn't like it at all. 
But it's always good to have a pair handy. Unless you try it you won't know if they work for you. 

10. Sipper for drinking water

Water ! This is going to be a life saver ! Even if you don't get a sipper you must drink loads of water to keep yourself hydrated. Breastfeeding is hard work and when you are up at night feeding your little one you will often feel really thirsty. So I just keep a sipper at my bed side to keep on sipping water while I nurse. It's all secure so I don't have any Spilling accidents. I got mine at a local pound shop ! Doesn't have to be fancy :) anything that does the job is good enough. 

So this was my top 10 must have list ! 
Hope it helps ☺️ 
See you all Until soon !