- Food. Lots of it, for both you and your partner. It needs to be food that doesn't need to go in the fridge and isn't smelly. Crisps, biscuits, non smelly sandwiches, that kind of thing. Before I gave birth to my daughter a friend gave me great advice - if cereal bars aren't your thing in normal life then they won't be your thing in labour or after either. Take food that you like.
- Drinks - but not fruity ones because you are likely to throw up in labour and throwing up acidic drinks is not pleasant, as you may remember from your malibu and pineapple days.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush for both you and your partner - in case the food you eat, or post nap breath, is smellier than you think it will be.
- Camera and battery charger and phone and phone charger, obviously.
- Socks - because even though hospitals are very warm your feet always get cold.
- A pillow - because hospitals never have enough, or comfortable, pillows
- Flip flops - because they are funny about you walking around barefoot, plus you may want to shower in them
- Bendy straws - that way your partner can give you a drink whatever position you may be in at the time, be it on all fours giving birth or lying down breastfeeding.
- Flannels - at least one to put on your forehead as a cold compress during birth and one to put on your bits as a warm compress for the first post birth wees.
- Money - you need it for food, for card to get tv access and for lots of other things I can't remember now but know we needed.
- A proper big fluffy bath towel so you can have a shower. And shower gel and shampoo etc.
- Any beauty products you might want before being photographed or receiving visitors. No need of course, but if you usually dye your top lip every few days or pluck your eyebrows daily or whatever, you might want to do the same if you're in hospital for a few days.
- Bottles and ready made formula - received wisdom is if you have it to hand then you won't persevere with breastfeeding. Patronising bollocks. If you decide that is best for you and your baby then that is best for your baby. Hospitals provide it while you're in hospital but you might not want to ask each time you need it. You'll find various advice on sterilising but next time I suspect I'll go the warm soapy water and a bottle brush route.
- Wet wipes. You'll be told to change your baby's nappy using cotton wool and water. But a friend from my antenatal classes who was having her second child told me, quite rightly I suspect, that no one uses cotton wool for their second baby so why put yourself through it for your first.
- Sudocrem and/or vaseline for nappy changes - early poos are sticky and horrid and this will help you protect and clean the bum.
- Many more maternity pads than you think you'll need. There's lots of blood and wee and other fluids, and that's just from you.
- Comfy big knickers you can treat as disposable (because of the blood and fluids etc) - better than paper knickers in my opinion.
- Magazine type reading - if you have an epidural it might get a bit boring (in a good way). You might want something to do.
- Lots of clothes for you and the baby - more then you think as it gets weed on and pooed on and sicked on and bled on.
- Pen and paper - your brain really is a bit mushy for those first days (make that weeks, no make that months) and you might want to write down any questions you have for midwives or doctors in case you forget them later, or medication details etc.
- Spare carrier bags for rubbish and dirty clothes etc.
Plus three more bits of advice:
- Make sure you know how to work the car seat in advance. You do not want to be having an argument in the hospital car park as you prepare to take the hospital home for the first time.
- Have a thermos flask ready at home, and any likely visitors primed to have one too. My hospital served lukewarm tea and wouldn't give me any hot water for hot squash despite me having a sore throat. My husband and my mum however kept a steady rotation of hot water coming in thermos flasks.
- Pack your bag as if you are staying for one or two nights, but have another bag packed at home with clothes for you and the baby in case you are in for longer. That way your partner doesn't have to guess what you want bringing in, they can just pick up your ready packed bag and bring it to you.
Hope this helps - feel free to add other suggestions in the comments below.
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