health

The no bullsh*t hospital bag list.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, a work colleague emailed me a list of everything I “absolutely NEEDED” in preparation for our baby’s arrival. It was more than two A4 pages long. I mean, seriously?

As a first time pregnant woman who was already freaked out about giving birth and being responsible for a little human being, this list scared me senseless. I rushed home and told my husband about all the things we didn’t yet have, and how we HAD to go buy them. And you know what? Many of these items turned out to be quite useless and unnecessary expenses.

I’m currently 38 weeks pregnant with our second baby and to some extent I’ve learned to navigate all the non-stop advice out there about pregnancy and beyond. I’ve packed my hospital bag and rearranged our new nursery just a few times this time around (unlike my first pregnancy, when I probably did both more than 50 times over), and I think I’ve worked out what’s absolutely necessary.

You don't need to fill this up completely. Image via iStock.

In the early days, all a newborn does is feed, sleep and go to the toilet. In addition, your tastes and needs will change as you go through the first few weeks and months. So, go easy on the pre-purchasing. Yes, you might need to buy some items down the track, but there are some that you just don’t need to bother with right now.

Here are my top tips:

For hospital:

  • Maternity/heavy duty sanitary pads – and plenty of them.
  • Black underwear (trust me, black is best).
  • Feeding bras or singlets with snaps on the shoulders for easy feeding.
  • Some form of music, iPad and/or book.
  • Chocolate (okay this probably isn’t a necessity, but you’ll appreciate having stashed a block in your bag) and other snacks. Hospital food sucks.
You will appreciate having a chocolate stash. Image via iStock.
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  • The ‘personal’ necessities – think toiletries, baby wash/cream, concealer, hairbrush. But don’t bother packing eye liner or a straightener like I did first time around – you’ll be too wrapped up in your new baby and too exhausted to actually care too much about what you look like post birth.
  • Loose waisted pants in some sort of soft fabric, like lounge or yoga pants – you’ll LIVE in them.
  • Button down shirts – essential if you’re trying to breastfeed.
  • Dry hair shampoo – your best quick fix when you’re just too exhausted to wash your hair.

For baby at home (assuming you have the basics like cot and car seat etc):

  • Onesies – don’t bother with the button-up ones. For easy nappy changes, zips are where it’s at. And husbands/partners are incapable of buttons. You’ll need LOADS.
You need loads of onesies. Image via iStock.
  • A good organic baby bum cream and bath wash or oil. You know those mainstream brands that everyone loves to give you at baby showers? They have, on numerous occasions, caused severe skin conditions in newborns. So, do your research and buy a natural brand.
  • LOADS of breast pads, maternity pads, nappies, wet wipes and nipple cream.
  • Baby carrier or wrap – sometimes the only way your baby will settle is close to your heart.
  • Home made meals stockpiled in the freezer – they will be an absolute godsend.
  • Plenty of muslin wraps to wipe up all the baby spew.

What you DON’T need right now:

  • Rockers/bouncers – they’re largely useless until your baby is a few months old.
  • Change tables – you can just buy a change mat and put it on top of the dresser/cabinet (one less item of equipment in an already packed room).
  • Pretty outfits – they’re just too much hassle in the early days, particularly when your baby will sleep, poo and feed so often. Save your cash and buy them for or in the later months instead.
You don't need all the fancy outfits. Image via iStock.
  • Fancy baby baths – the sink or a newborn seat for the bath will do.
  • The 'latest and greatest' designer feeding chair – yes, they’re nice to have, but the cheaper ones can be a bit ugly and who has a spare $1,000 or more to splurge on an expensive one? Some of the best breastfeeding positions are achieved in bed, either sitting up or lying on your side (the latter certainly worked the best for me, and once I discovered this our feeding chair went unused). And let’s face it, if the baby is in a cot or bassinet next to your bed (which is what is recommended in the first six months of their lives) then you’ll be most likely to feed them in bed anyway. We did have a vintage wooden rocking chair though, which came in handy when we were really struggling to settle our baby.
  • A nappy bin – not only are the refill liners practically impossible to find at your local supermarket, you’ll probably find that no matter how ‘scented’ the bin is it still smells, so you end up emptying it multiple times a day anyway. Might as well just use nappy or regular plastic bags, tie them tightly and leave them outside ready for the normal bin.

Did we miss anything, what would you suggest?

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