The Ultimate Guide To Birth Plans And Hospital Bags

Some women get their birthing plan together months before their due date to be organised and feel content on the run-up to labour. I like to live life on the edge and have decided to leave it until just a couple of weeks before; to my midwife’s disgust.

Both my previous labours were very different, therefore I have no way to judge what this one will be like. All I do know is that my first labour was 12 hours, my second 6 hours. Therefore, I would politely request this one to be 3 hours – and painless. Thanks, birthing plan.

Your birthing plan is supposed to contain a whole host of information for your midwife to read through when you get to the hospital. Basically, it is a set of guidelines based on your preferences of how you would prefer your labour to be managed. You can be as detailed or as vague as you wish, but in my opinion, the main thing you need to be is realistic and open-minded. There is no point in saying “I do not want a caesarean.” Yes, you will if your baby’s life depended on it, however, you would “prefer to avoid a caesarean if possible”. It’s all about the wording.

The other thing you need to bear in mind is that your decisions can, and will change once you are in the situation. You’ll either deal with the pain or you won’t. So your decision to avoid an epidural may be something you reconsider when faced with it. With my other two labours, and again with the impending birth of our surprise addition, I give my Hubby the full responsibility of judging when and what to do should I go off the rails. He knows me and he knows me well. Choose your birthing partner wisely and talk through every scenario so in the heat of the moment when you simply don’t know what to do, they remain calm and take the reins.

To make life easier for you, I have compiled a list of things to consider and include in your birthing plan. The other thing to think about is your hospital bag; you’ll need two – one for you and one for the little one you are soon going to meet!

After lots of debating on the most suitable baby bag for our needs, we opted for a Pacapod change bag; as a family, we love practical things and the Pacapod combines functionality and design with style and fashion. The individual changing and feeding pods make life on the go easy peasy and the bag itself is like a Mary Poppins bag! Compact but fits in EVERYTHING you need for your little one.

Within our baby bag, we have packed the following essentials:
1. Our Wonderoo’s reusable nappies; using organic nappies as opposed to disposable ones saves landfills and up to 300 nappies!!! They save you money – up to £630 to be exact! And there are none of these nasty chemicals in contact with your little one’s delicate skin.
As parents of two older boys, we are new to the world of reusable nappies and are excited to find out if they really do live up to our expectations.
2. Sudocreme; it’s been on the market for years and it protects little bottoms. You shouldn’t be without it so I am told… although I thoroughly recommend Bepanthen, Calendula and Metanium as other options for when they get a nasty nappy rash.
3. A cute little take home outfit. Keep it comfortable on their delicate skin. There’s plenty of time to dress them in a baby waistcoat, a tutu or dressed up as a tiny little lion.
4. Water Wipes; When we had our first son, Josh in 2005, we were told to use warm water and cotton wool balls. This is fine when you are at home but when you are on the go, it’s almost impossible. Standard baby wipes will dry out your baby’s skin and cause a horrible sore bottom but Water Wipes are 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract to soothe and are as delicate as just water.
5. The Nursing Scarf by The Birthing Shirt Company because breastfeeding in public can be frowned upon by some morons (do not get me started on this)! But to save you having to draw those curtains and isolate yourself while on the ward and feeding your little one – this is the perfect cover over. Organic cotton and lightweight – I’m really excited about this product!
6. Breast Pads; Now that you are about to become a new Mummy, being glamorous goes out of the window. Your boobs are going to leak, a lot, so be prepared. There is a choice of disposable ones (the Tommee Tippee ones have a sticky insert to keep them in place) or alternatively, you can opt for organic cotton reusable ones (personally I’d recommend these).
7. Tommee Tippee Bottles; Although I intend to breastfeed, anything could happen in labour or post-birth so I have packed a bottle just in case and have opted for the Tommee Tippee bottles as they are supposed to mimic the feel of the breast and make the transition for your little one co-feeding easier.
8. Aptamil Milk; Again, I do want to breastfeed but just in case, I am taking some formula with me. With our other children, we used Cow & Gate but have decided to use Aptamil as they claim it is perfect if you intend to co-feed.
9. Your notes; THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! Do not forget your maternity notes.

In my maternity bag, I have packed everything to cover any situation I may find myself in!
1. Two towels: Plus one kept in the car for you to sit on. Take another one that can be used for the yucky stage and/or your water birth (word of warning, choose a dark colour) and another that can be used for after you’ve had a shower and freshen up.
2. A large comfortable tee shirt or nightdress: you’ll use this while in labour so have comfort in mind when you are purchasing this item; it’s not a fashion show. I tend to always opt for organic cotton as it keeps you cool throughout labour and warm post-birth, and I have the perfect recommendation from The Birthing Shirt Company
3. A maternity gown: Despite already losing a little bit of your baby bump, you’ll still have some of that belly there. You’ll also want to cover up quickly and easily after birth, something lightweight and not too tight.
4. Thick Socks: One thing I was never told in my first labour is how cold your feet get, even in the height of summer! While it may not be attractive when you’re naked from the waist down – snuggly socks will make the world a better place. Trust me.
5. Spray Water Bottle: If you are labouring in the Summer, you may feel the heat affects you far more than usual. To stay cool and feel hydrated, take a spray water bottle, your partner can spritz you between contractions, or you can spray him directly in the eye if he winds you up.
6. Makeup Bag: This may be just for the vain, but I can’t go anywhere without a tinted moisturiser and mascara… And lots and lots of moisturiser! You may be a new Mum, but you’re still you.
7. Mama TENS: Although I want to use this labouring at home, I have decided to pack my TENS machine, so I know exactly where it is. Don’t forget to check the batteries, take a spare set and know how to use it before it’s in your bag! I made this mistake with my first labour… Reading instructions and arguing with the other half in the middle of a contraction was INFURIATING!
8. Energy sweets, food & drink: I always go for Ginger Nut biscuits; ginger eases nausea, and they are hard to bite down on should you be munching when a contraction pops up! I also like the Lucozade energy sweets and Mentos Soft Mints as they instantly hydrate a dry mouth from the gas and air.
9. Vaseline: Each labour I have had has resulted in my lips becoming chapped – there is nothing worse. Have this close to hand to smear all over your face quickly. Although I am very partial to the Australian brand Lucas’ Papaw Ointment if you can get your hands on some!
10. 4Head: Suffering from a headache after labour is the last thing you want to endure, but a stick of 4Head will instantly provide relief and is perfectly safe when breastfeeding (and in pregnancy).
11. Massager & Massage Oil: Some of us suffer badly from back pain in labour. Relieve this with a roller ball massager and oil. It’s also very relaxing post-birth.
12. Bio-Oil: I have used this throughout my pregnancy and will continue to do so for 3 months after our little one has arrived. I’m hoping for miracles.
13. Arnica: If you haven’t used Arnica tablets before, give them a go. They really do help your entire body recover from pregnancy (do not use during pregnancy) and labour far quicker than without popping a little tablet. But please, if breastfeeding, consult your doctor before using.
14. Maternity Pads: From now on, you won’t be able to leave home without these. Personally, I prefer the slightly more expensive organic ones as they are more comfortable to wear and better for the environment. Regardless, you’ll feel like you’re wearing a nappy, and at times, you may actually look like you’re wearing one! Get used to it… It’s going to be going on for quite a while. Oh, the joys of children.
15. Fan: Some labour wards provide fans and/or air conditioning, others simply do not have the funds to offer these so be prepared and pop in a handheld fan in case you require some additional cooling.
16. Phone/device charger(s): No one knows how long your labour will be or how long you will need to stay on the ward, so take a charger for all your devices. It’s amazing how short the life span of your phone will be when you are taking hundreds of photo’s to send to the world and bombard social media with. Plus the Mother-in-law will be chomping at the bit to speak to you.
17. Magicool Spray: Again, staying cool is really important. The hotter you get, the more uncomfortable you can become. Magicool is a great spray that you can use to instantly cool.
18. Selection of pants: Believe me, you can never have too many?! Big ones. Massive ones. HUUUUGE ones. Take a selection so you can decide what is more comfortable for you.
19. Speaker: Having your favourite music will seriously pass the time. Don’t leave home without this.
20. iPad/iPod/iPhone: Of course you need these!
21. The Birthing Shirt Company Labour Candle: This candle releases relaxing Lavender and Clary Sage aroma’s which are scientifically proven to calm and soothe. Burning the candle while in labour is said to encourage contractions, balance emotions and help reduce anxiety and tension. But be aware not all labour wards and birthing suites will allow you to use these. Ask before you light.

Now all that’s left to do is…. wait. And wait. And waaaaaaaiiitttt…. Good luck Mama, you’ve got this. Not long now!

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