Around two and a half years ago just before I was expecting my first baby, my friends (including some of the lovely Ladyland ladies) threw me a baby shower. There were so many little wrapped packages I couldn’t wait to unwrap – the cute bunnies, clothes and baby bubble baths!
But there was a particular pack of presents put together by some experienced mums and inside were not only items I didn’t have, but also secret ‘mum’ things I had never heard of, and in the ensuing weeks couldn’t have done without. It’s now become a tradition among my friends to bring any baby shower down to earth with a ‘bump’ and introduce this list of new mum must-haves…
I am now on round two and expecting a baby any minute, so I have gone back to the list and emptied the contents of my hospital bag and put together my essentials for the first few weeks to share with you. If you are expecting your first baby this list could prevent a late night/early morning dash to the shops!
Top row, from left:
1. Gripe Water and Infacol: let’s hope your baby doesn’t, but some newborns suffer from colic and trapped wind (can’t burp after feeding). These two items are for dealing with this. Another good one to try is Colief.
2. Newborn longsleeve babygrows: you are going to need plenty of these and buying some simple white ones will mean no matter the sex of your baby they will be snug and happy. You will also need little vests for underneath with either short or no sleeves. They can wear these day and night.
3. Snacks and drinks: when packing your hospital bag put in some energy-boosting snacks and your favourite drinks. I have to admit I did eat my way through my last labour (thanks to its length and an epidural), but also remember your partner will probably get hungry too and will need some food to hand while you have a vice-like grip on their other one!
4. High-fibre snack (such as prunes): by all means, eat healthily during labour but straight afterwards make sure you do eat some fibre-rich foods and drink plenty of water as you want everything else to run like clockwork, so to speak!
Second row, from left:
5. Dummies: frowned upon by many, but from what I can gather this is mainly due to snobbery. Suckling calms a baby down and if you are breastfeeding a dummy can also bridge the gap while you find somewhere to sit/get comfortable before you start a feed. Also, most babies will seem like they don’t want a dummy at first – it usually needs to be held in their mouth until they start sucking it.
6. Baby hat: babies get much colder than adults and as a rule they’ll usually need one more layer of clothing than what you are wearing – take the hat in your hospital bag.
7. Breast pads: these are the best disposable brand but also the most expensive. You can also buy washable re-useable ones.
8. Arnica tablets: this is down to your belief in homeopathic remedies, but I and many of my friends recommend these. Arnica is known for its healing properties and I will be taking these following birth to help things along.
9. Small hand-held fan: I got really hot during labour, and labour wards are often really warm.
10. BIIIIG pants: people swear by disposable pants, but I think they are really uncomfortable. You are better off heading to the clothes aisle at your local supermarket or Primark and purchasing a couple of packs of some big basic granny pants in black.
Third row, from left:
11. Ready-made infant formula: breast feeding is tricky, it doesn’t always go to plan and some hospitals won’t provide formula. Pop some of these in your bag just as a back-up.
12. Baby booties: see #6.
13. Toiletries: including lip balm, shower gel, dry hair shampoo…Your lips are dry, you’re in labour, it’s 3am, you’re desperate for lip balm – luckily, you packed it. The hospital shower isn’t glamorous, you are feeling far from glamorous, but luckily you have a lovely-smelling shower gel to perk you up. You didn’t have the energy to wash your hair in but your friends are coming to visit you at home/hospital –you need dry shampoo!
14. Facial water spray: great for cooling your face down during labour and if you believe the hype you will also look more beautiful afterwards!
15. Nipple cream: again, this is the best one. I would say it’s an essential if you are going to breastfeed.
Fourth row, from left:
16. Cotton wool: in the beginning this is all you need to clean your baby’s bottom with warm water.
17. Hand sanitiser: I’m not saying don’t wash your hands, but sometimes you just get stuck and this is very handy to have.
18. Olive oil: take a little bottle to hospital and put it on baby’s bottom before you put the first nappy on. Their first poo is really sticky and this will help prevent it from adhering to their skin too much. Olive oil is also great as a moisturiser and for rubbing into areas affected by cradle cap to help remove it.
19. Muslins: these squares of cotton fabric have multiple uses and are an essential, from forming a barrier between your clothes and baby’s puke, to using as a sunshade or swaddle.
20. Hotel/disposable slippers: great for wearing in hospital. Pop them in the bin on departure.
21. Newborn disposable nappies: take a bundle to the hospital. Even if you are intending to use washable ones, give yourself a break in the first few weeks to just get used to things.
22. TENS Machine, for pain relief: I have to say my recollection of using this is slightly hazy. I think it helped; I will try it again.
23. Maternity pads: sure, these look like the sanitary pads from the ‘olden days’. They are available in slim form but I’m saving my money and using these bad boys.
24. Massage ball: helpful for when your partner’s hands get tired after a four-hour massage!
25. Moist toilet tissue: I don’t want to be graphic, but things change after you have a baby and you just might be grateful you got these in advance.
Extras not in the photo:
Pillow from home – much nicer than a hospital one and might be comforting.
Lavender pillow – this can go both ways: it could be a great comfort or it could put you off lavender forever.
Napisan: this stuff gets added to your usual laundry powder and is great for sanitising and getting stains out of clothes. Can also be used as a soak for clothes if the apple of your eye has explosive guts!
Teetha: another homeopathic remedy in a powder form for calming a baby down and taking away teething pain.
Please feel free to add your own tips and tricks below, but hurry – I’m due any moment!
Photography: Emma Scott-Child