Midwife's Musings - What do I need in my birth bag?
What do I need to pack?
This is a question I'm often asked by pregnant women. It's something that can vary if you are in a host country, so I've included some top tips, as well as tips from Instagram followers who have kindly shared their experiences. If you'd like to add yours, feel free to make a note in the comments at the bottom and do check out the Instagram page (@bumpsbirthsandbabiesabroad). Thanks to all who contributed!
So here we go:
Packing is something that can be super fun, helping you to bond with your soon-to-be arrival and helping you to mentally prepare for this exciting moment and transition in your life. So my first piece of advice is, enjoy it!
Babies can come at any time, usually between 38-42 weeks. My advice would be, having a bag ready with all you need for your birth from 35-36 weeks is great. This is when midwives and doctors will often start to ask you about your preparations and means you're ready well in advance and not having to do a last minute rush.
Whilst this list is mostly tailored to hospital or birth centre births, it's still really helpful having everything in one place if you're having a home birth, and it's also really handy if you have to transfer to the hospital with short notice.
Necessary items often differ in different countries depending on what facilities they have. Ask your health care provider what they would recommend, as well as friends who have already given birth in your host country. They may well have lots of suggestions of things you wouldn't have thought of.
Try and find out how many days it is expected that you will be in the hospital. Of course this can vary depending on the type of birth you have and how well you and your baby are, but finding out a rough estimate will help you prepare the right amount of clothing and supplies.
In the UK we would usually advise mother's to pack:
° Maternity notes °Hygiene items such as maternity pads, soap, towels (we used to just have baby sized ones), toothbrush, tooth paste, hairbrush, breastpads etc. °Camera (or a phone with a good camera) °Nightwear °Comfortable clothing for time in the hospital (often nightgowns) and for going home °Extra snacks and drinks °Recreational items like music, book and games (induction can be a long process) °Cotton wool °Nappies/diapers- You may need different sizes if you're unsure of the size of your baby °Baby clothes- At least two hats (one usually gets a bit messy as its put on the baby straight after they are born to keep them warm), vests, baby grows, blankets etc. We would usually advise that babies wear one more layer than we do to make sure they are warm enough.
Here are some of the other items others who have given birth abroad have found they needed. As these are individual's experiences, they may well vary in different health facilities in the same country but are definitely helpful pointers:
Uganda- Bedding- Sheets, pillows etc. as well as any food you'd like Ghana- A basin to be washed in Australia- Eye mask and multiple pjs incase of night sweats Japan- Water and other drinks as well as a pillow Guatemala- Many outfits for newborns (more than 3 sets were expected) Scottland- Ear plugs Finland- Nipple cream China- Painkillers