If you’re anything like me, (furry, long tail, fond of eating ants) you love a good recommendation. Especially with something like giving birth. So, here are mine, keeping in mind I have done it a grand total of once, hence the title of this post.
Man, contractions are a real P in the A. Or more accurately, pain in the uterus and lower back. I was using this incredible electric heatpack during pregnancy for my pelvis issues, and this proved a tremendous saviour during the many hours of writhy, wild woman contractions. Takes 15 mins to heat up, then stays hot for hours. Makes hot water bottles looks incredibly shit. Husband held it on my lower back and massaged the area as I pretended the stupid fitball was helping. I appreciated its heat SO, MUCH.
WELL-PACKED HOSPITAL BAGS.
I was clueless on this front. Totally overpacked on some stuff, and underpacked on others. For example, because our hospital room was oddly cold Sonny needed a warmer blanket than we’d packed (wool or cashmere ideally, not the light cotton one we had packed… and if you do go cashmere, by God this Sheridan one we were given is unreal. Still use it every day in some capacity ) and half the cute, novice mum clothes I packed were FAR too big for him, and impossible to get on and off for very sleep deprived people with zero experience in the land of press studs and cross over bloody onesies. (Highly recommend the Bonds Zip Wondersuits. HIGHLY. They come with little feet and hand covers so you don’t need socks/mittens.)
I did, however, get some stuff right, with the help of the clever rascals at Bundle. They make tailored (you choose the bits you want in there from their site) maternity bags, for both baby and mama, and it includes all the necessities that I would have forgotten for sure (maternity pads, breast pads, breast gels etc etc). They also offer GREAT checklists of what to pack and what you need for the nursery and car and pram etc. I found that wildly helpful as a rookie. Plus, the bag is rad and we use it for travel now.
Just on maternity pads, I feel VERY strongly that the Tom’s maternity pads ones are the best. Very strongly. Tried them all, they were by far the best.
In the end I had the Bundle bag for Sonny, and a medium suitcase for me (with my Bundle sack of stuff in it.) I bought some nice PJs from Country Road and J.Crew (nothing tight around waist and nothing I needed to wear a bra with) before I went in so that I would feel a little bit noyce when people came to visit, and no I did not get dressed in Real Clothes for them, and nor could I for about five days such was my SWELLING and PUFFINESS, oh dear God the puffiness. I just fit into my shoes and pants and top when I left the hospital, such was my marshmallowness. I had no idea this would be the case but luckily wasn’t quite so stupid as to pack jeans (HA!) or non-maternity-ish clothes. And as I had my hair keratin smoothed a week out from having Sonny, I was a total wash and go (or stay, more accurately) women with no need for any more styling effort than a quick blast with the hair dryer and some hair powder for texture.
For the puffiness mentioned above. My feet were like pillows. And not those sassy little ones you bought for your sofa; big, filthy European ones.
HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP.
This is something some friends were given by their friends, who then gave us one, and we will be paying it forward big time. It’s a small pink salt lamp you can pick up at light stores, online, or from one of those new age crystal type shops. It makes the birthing suite all chilled and relaxing (yes, really), then acts as a nice cosy lamp and night light in the hospital room, and then becomes the baby’s night lamp at home. It’s a small thing, but was a BIG thing while in the hospital, genuinely calming me and adding a lovely tranquil vibe. Also, and perhaps more importantly, they act as an ioniser, purifying the air it by clearing it of airborne particles and dust, which makes them especially good for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.
I’ve already mentioned these. They help a LOT with separation and support in the weeks following birth. I wore my Solidea shorts from a day after birth for 6 weeks, a lot of girls like the SRC ones, my physio said they’re much of a muchness, which I’ve always found to be a silly saying, but nonetheless. By three months, with zero exercise or strengthening (banned and impossible due to my Osteitis Pubis) I have less then half a cm separation now.
AN EXCELLENT LIP BALM AND HAND CREAM.
Never will you wash and sterilise your hands more than as a new mum. My word. And the lip balm is vital when you’re doing all that panting and deep breathing during birth and labour. Obviously the best option for that is Go-To Lips! and I love the MV Organics hand cream. Chuck in some relaxing face mist too – lovely during labour. I like Sodashi’s.
Big bottle. Choose one you like the smell of, because your baby will basically smell like this product for the first few weeks.
PHONE CHARGER & iPAD.
I liked having the iPad for mindless net skimming and playing Rdio during quiet moments in the hospital, and also for music in the birth room. (I had a few ‘birth’ playlists ready to go from other Rdio users, but ended up just listening to a Ray LaMontagne station made of all his songs. It was the perfect soundtrack from frantic, painful labour, to snoozy post-epidural dozing, to the actual pushing bit.) Darling husband recently reminded me we watched a few Simpsons episodes on it during that dozey post-epidural bit, which I definitely forgot about, but am sure I enjoyed at the time.
My husband made me a Hero Mix (like a trail mix, but subbing in childbirth for the trail) of nuts and Rocky Road chocolate and we had Endura electrolyte drink ready to go, but I didn’t eat a thing during labour – I preferred to shake uncontrollably and vomit if you don’t mind – but as soon as Sonny was out BRING ME FOOD ALL THE FOOD NOW NOW NOW. There is a “beautiful” shot of me moosing down toast as he has his first suckle. The midwife was resistant to feed me since I would probably just vom it up again, but after all that hard work I gently indicated that she should please BRING ME SOME TOAST RIGHT NOW DO NOT FUCK WITH ME I WILL EAT YOUR SOFT LITTLE HAND IF YOU DO NOT BRING IT TO ME SOON AND SO GOD HELP ME I WILL. A friend advised I should take some mints to freshen up during all that heavy breathing and vomming, and I’m glad she did.
CAR SEAT CAPSULE.
(You know, to get the baby home in.) We chose the Maxi-Cosi Mico (for newborns to 6 months) and it is bloody fantastic. It is SO safe, and SO airbagged up, which is very important… but a YUGE reason I love it is for the fashion colours. Kidding! No, I love it best of all because it clicks out of the car, as a capsule you carry around and can click directly into the pram (more on prams later) so I don’t have to wake the tiny giant when I take him from the car to the pram or house. He also sleeps in it at people’s houses and cafes etc. God I love that bit. That was a dealbreaker for me, that clip-in to the car/pram thing. (I think they call it a ‘Travel System.’) After six months, the capsule was loaned to a friend til we need it back, and we installed a Maxi-Cosi Euro, which will last Sonny til he is four.
Oh and DEFINITELY practice all the seat belts and getting it in and out of the car before you have the baby. We pretended to, but didn’t really, and when I tried it myself for the first time on a day I was insanely sleep deprived but full of bravado and set off with Sonny to Baby Bunting, I had a meltdown in the car park because I could, not, get, it, to, click, in. I can do it with my eyes closed and backwards now, but it would’ve been much smarter to learn all my toys before adding a live baby to them.
You know, like those heavy duty shopping ones you get at Howard’s Storage. To carry home the lovely gifts/flowers and cards you will be sent by loving friends and family and members of The Black Eyed Peas and Madonna.
In case you don’t like the one that pops out. What have I forgotten? What do you swear by?
Welcome back, I’ve missed reading your posts! My little girl was born a few days before Sonny so I had to laugh out loud at your pillow feet description. So apt! I found that only pure cranberry juice worked to flush all the fluid out. I packed all of your Go To stuff, and still use Exceptionoil for me and bubs. I bought a couple of incandescent light bulbs for some at-home red light therapy – these were recommended to me to ward off some of the baby blues I experienced with my first baby. For feeding throughout the night we bought this bed nest http://www.bednest.com – best thing ever. Have you experienced any hair loss at all? My hair is starting to fall out in clumps, I full on have a Costanza receding hairline.
Keep the advice coming Zoe. I’m due in Feb and this info is incredibly useful.
I’m currently trying to choose a pram and I’m so confused by the endless options!
Ok, I hesitate to ask, but … What exactly is “separation” and how do shorts help? Sounds terrifying.
I was wondering the EXACT same thing 🙂
Separation of the abdominal muscles – very common in pregnancy.
Your abdominal muscles can’t stay together when your belly gets gigantic so there is some separation of the muscles. They eventually move back together but this is greatly assisted by recovery shorts sort of keeping everything back to where it should be. Worked wonders for me!
It’s separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy…usually they meet back up nicely on their own in time, some women need physio, some surgery in extreme cases. I’m guessing the shorts help keep everything together and maybe take the load off your abs for you so they can heal?
You need more pads than you think!
Wow thank you!! I’m due with our first take home bubby in December, and had absolutely no idea what to pack!! Love your light hearted honesty but also such handy hints. Thanks again x
Nipple shields completely saved me & I would also recommend some big (go over the tummy), black, cheap undies, the 6 pack variety from target that you can throw out.
I had my son in feb this year and I watched Friends reruns during my post-epidural chill. It was still on while I was pushing! I remember something vaguely about Rachel being perky and Monica’s towels… Good memories.
Add a CalmBirth class to the list! Especially if you’re a bit worried about giving birth. Worked wonders for me – I was terrified of giving birth and ended up having two great births. There are courses all over Aus http://www.calmbirth.com.au/
I had my first bub 2 weeks ago – the puffiness!!! My feet resembled something between Shrek and a Hobbit, albeit a little less hairy. I checked them out every couple of hours to monitor their size and then covered them up, they terrified me so. Elevation really helped (when I had the chance) and I’m pleased to say I’ve never been so happy to see my regular-sized ankles! I recommend over-packing the maternity pads – my very good man had to do an emergency shopping run as I had significantly underestimated the amount needed. Kotex worked well for me, however I did walk like cowgirl due to their rather formidable but super absorbent size.
Great advice as usual! I particularly like the one about the lamp, I used the glow of the TV for the night feeds in the hospital, not such a calming vibe. I had my baby girl only a few days before sonny was born, by the time I got to the hospital I said to the midwife “I’ll take the drugs now” her reply was “sorry sweetheart, your about to have your baby” and we left the iPod in the car and there was no time to go and get it. my bebe was in a hurry, must have been running late for a meeting or something
Oh my gosh Zoe, I cannot thank you enough for your recommendation of the Skyla hot pack. I read your post yesterday, and went straight out to buy one today. Let me just say, at 35 weeks pregnant with baby #2, I am SO grateful I found this now! I have no idea how I didn’t know about this before, but it’s amazing, and such a life saver. Thank YOU!!!
Information overload, so happy I found this blog answers all the Qs, I saw the salt lamp on Mumgo, I want one. Id love to hear your opinion on Maternity wear. I’m in my mid 20’s and most of the maternity wear I see seems a bit like something my aunt would wear. K xx
Search maternity in the box top right and you’ll find my post on it…
I had my baby last week and 100% second that TOM have by far the best maternity pads and I’ve used Kotex, Cottons and Libra.
Take warm layers to the hospital including socks. Take loose shorts in case you have a catheter after – long pants won’t work. Also, your own pillow will be a comfort during those first nights. Oh, and a shower cap!
It worked well for me not to have too many visitors at hospital as after soooo many medical specialists coming,through the day I wanted a break in the arvo/evening! At home, visitors allow you to get a few things done around home while they entertain baby.
For the maternity wear prior, highly recommend Mavi jeans on Queen Bee – so comfy and I’m wearing them after as just like normal jeans. Just need to figure out easy feeding tops now!!!
I have no idea what I was doing but I didn’t get out of my hospital gown for three days. I also didn’t put any clothes on my baby until he was four days old. He was just in a nappy, singlet and the hospital blanket. Poor, naked little bunny.
I think the idea of putting clothes on him, or myself was just too much effort, so we both remained partially naked until people started to make comments along the lines of “did you bring any clothes with you? I can go and pick some up for you” What a loser I was.
(To be honest, with so much gunk going on downstairs, the idea of putting real underwear seemed a bit useless.)
At the other end of the spectrum, I once visited a friend the day after she gave birth and she was wearing a skin tight mini-dress. Skin tight. Mini. Very mini. Hair perfectly curled, full face of makeup on….. I walked in and thought “If I see one glimpse of a maternity pad, I’m outta here”
Hi Zoe – what baby/nappy bag do you recommend? Most of them are rather hideous!