A close friend of mine is mid way through her first pregnancy… she has done some birth preparation courses and has a couple of my handed down books like ‘What to expect when you are expecting’ which are brilliant but there are so many unanswered questions when you are preparing for your first baby aren’t there… what do you really need when you are physically having your baby and more importantly, when you bring it home?
To take to hospital (I printed this bit out and put it on top of my hospital bag so I could do a last minute check)
- Hospital notes
- Copy of birth plan
- Ipod / music – Its really nice to have a bit of background music while you are in labour. For me it really helped and was a something to focus my mind on other than each other and the contractions!
- Clothes for labour and after! It seems strange, but its a good thing to think about what you are going to wear when you are labouring. Are you a big t-shirt girl / vest top lady / tankini needing water birth hopeful? After your baby is born a front opening shirt / breastfeeding nightie or like I wore, breastfeeding vest tops (from mothercare) with tracksuit bottoms or PJ’s were good – basically need your top half to be easy access and something cool and comfortable as it is very hot in maternity.
- Slippers – they don’t like you walk the wards without shoes on and you just don’t know how long you will be in hospital for.
- Disposable pants yes glam I know – Mothercare ones come out very small sized so buy big – or I found Cariwell hospital pants which I got online were very good and comfortable (if there is such a thing!) OR just get a pack of cheap big black pants which you can bin after you are done with them.
- Sanitary towels I went through 1 big pack of the super thick ones and then downgraded to the thinner ones with wings after a few days. Night time sanitary pads are good too.
- Snacks – Cereal bars, savoury biscuits, sweets to suck, a small selection of snacks and some drinks might be good to have with you. Obviously, hospitals will provide you with water but my lifesaver was the still lucozade sport in squeezy pouches – you really need to keep drinking in labour and something easy to drink out of helped me too! I never quite had time for eating but it was handy to have snacks for the rest of the stay in hospital!
- Breast pads – Didn’t use the breast pads in hospital but I was burning through them soon after! Get 2 boxes for starters… I used the disposable ones as they worked best for me, Tommy Tippee are very good and almost guarantee no embarrassing leaks.
- Breastfeeding tops / bras – Tough one to know what size bra to get for breastfeeding which is why I loved the breastfeeding vest tops at first (they are also the most discreet that I had which is good when friends visit and they don’t have to see your whole boob on show!) The best breastfeeding bra I had was a Bravado one – The ‘original nursing bra’ very comfy.
- Toiletries – Hairbrush, toothbrush, shampoo, moisturiser etc I took sample sizes of my favourites and it was lovely to smell nice and feel fresh in the hot maternity unit!
- Newborn nappies – work on going through about 8 per day. We used huggies and they were great…you go through a lot – we used about 2 packs / week. The sizes are worked on by weight so you can guess an average and then send the family to get more when you know who is in there! We now use Pampers as they seem to fit my girls shape better.
- Baby clothes I had to send my mum out to get stuff that fitted as my first came out a very slim long baby! We had been thrifty and only bought the 0-3month stuff and of course as she was skinny we needed newborn size! Probably good to have a bit of both.. and not to forget that friends and family will be keen to help run errands if you need other things. I would say its good to have approximately 6 each of baby grows (short and long sleeved – layering is good for newborns), sleep suits, vests, 1 hat, 1 warmer cardigan for when you come home.
- Car seat (they won’t let you leave hospital here without one..)
- Camera and phone – Don’t forget to charge them and get ready to take a lot of pics! Make sure your partner takes lots just after the birth – baby being weighed etc as the moment goes in a flash (literally!) and they are great ones to have to look back on.
There are SO many choices for car seats and prams nowadays. When you are buying yours, my advice would be to take in to consideration where you are going to spend the most time pushing your buggy (beach / road / track?) The weight of the buggy once its folded and how easy it is to get in and out of your car and home….and how many kids you are thinking of having! We have got and LOVE:
- Phil & Ted sport double buggy, The Phil & Teds doubles kit (my thrifty husband planned ahead!) Phil & Teds cacoon (great for newborn). Its great, we are still using it nearly 5 years later!
You will also need
- Car seat
- Sun mesh / UV cover for your pram (I think parasols can be a bit of a fight if there is a breeze!)
- Changing bag (with travel changing mat)
- Rain cover for pram
- Cot / cot bed and mattress and if preferred a crib or moses basket for first few weeks. Bea was in our room for 6 weeks, Freya for 4 months!
- Changing table / dresser with baskets / shelf nearby for nappies, creams etc at easy reach so you don’t have to leave your little wriggler to get supplies
- Fitted sheets for mattress x 3
- Flat sheet for cot bed x2 (good to use as cover if hot)
- Cellular & / or fleece blankets x 4 (good cot and for pram use as well)
- We used a swaddling blanket for first weeks when baby too small for sleeping bag. Got ours from http://www.kiddopotamus.co.uk
- Sleeping bags – a selection of different togs for different temps or we use Bambino Merino ones. They are expensive but I think they are absolutely great and have lasted for two babies. They come in two sizes and only one weight which regulates to keep babies not too hot or cold, in my mind much better than having to keep buying them as seasons change and baby grows!
Toys – don’t buy too many you will be given loads when your bundle of joy arrives!
Mobile – a musical mobile was my sanity – Bea loved it and it allowed for me to wander off to make a cup of tea / hang washing etc! Its one of the more colourful ones which I wasn’t keen on but we have it in the lounge – its not to send her to sleep but for her to play under!
Monitor – definitely a mans purchase in my book! – a good gadget to focus their attention! We have a BT one, it is great, it has a thermometer and a light on the handset which is great and thats all I know about it!
Changing matt – One for changing table and I had an extra one downstairs too so I didn’t have to keep going up and down stairs for the many nappy changes!
Black out curtains – for me and my kids this was a must, the darker the better for day time sleeps if you ask me!
- Newborn starter kit 6 x baby grows, socks etc
- I would say you will need 6-8 babygrows of newborn and 0-3month sizes
- Depending on where you live and the temperatures, 1 x hat – newborn one for leaving hospital
- Long sleeved sleep suits 6 of 0-3 months
- Warmer top for when out (cardigan or fleece)
- Vests / body suits for under sleep suits if cold
- You will be given lots of clothes! Its great but most people give you older sized outfits so plan to need to buy stuff for straight away. We got the minimum and added to it once we knew the gender of our baby and what size we needed! Proper clothes look cute but I have to say that babygrows are by far the easiest for access to bottoms!
- Changing bag & changing matt for out and about
- Nappies – as before – you need tons!
- Baby wipes – we use the unfragranced natracare ones or huggies pure ones but I have to say at home, cotton wool and water is nicest on tiny baby bottoms.
- Cotton wool – large balls are best – again, you will go through A LOT so stock up!
- Lotion – Not needed for first weeks on babies perfect skin as it gets used to the outside world but when you need some the Earth Friendly range is amazing. I also used organic sunflower oil on dry skin – nice to have a massage each day
- Nappy bags & bin – I remember that I didn’t think I wanted a nappy bin but they are worth their weight in gold even if they are ugly!
- Boobs! I am not going to lie – Breast is best, whether you manage a week, a month or keep going for a year, give it a try. It is something you really won’t know how you feel about until you have a go. Make sure you ask the midwives to help you too – getting it right helps successful feeding. IF you don’t get on with feeding for whatever reason though, don’t beat yourself up about it. Happy mum = happy baby.
- Bottles – we got bottle feeding bits just in case I didn’t like breastfeeding and as we knew we will use it eventually… we had heard that the Tommee Tippee stuff was good and the ‘most natural nipple’ and Bea seemed to like them! I also used Born Free bottles which are good
- Thermal bottle warmers were great once I gave up feeding my little ones.
- Breast feeding bras – as before
- Pack of muslin squares – you will have them all over your house! They last for years and are well worth it!
- Face cloths – good for cleaning and for drying little bottoms too.
- Expressing kit (manual or electric?) I was leant an electric one (Meleda) and from about 8 weeks I used it to express enough so my husband could do the last feed each night which was fantastic. It also gets baby used to a bottle early on which could avoid some problems later on when you want to stop feeding!
- Sterilising kit – We got the Tommee Tippee Microwave one as it fitted the bottles we bought!
- I love my cuddle dry towel and still use it 4 years after we were given it!
- Baby bath. We had this brilliant one which came into its own when we had both the girls
- Nappy cream (don’t use until after approx 6 weeks, just use water – see recommended products at end)
- Electric room thermometer (some monitors have integral thermometers)
- Bath thermometer
- Thermometer (we got an electric ear thermometer)
- Car blinds / sunshades
- Bibs (cotton ones for dribble, plastic backed ones once you start food!)
- Bottle brush if didn’t get a free one with your sterilizer
Sites and stuff
Earth Friendly – Earth Friendly products are great organic products which seem to be miraculous! I use their lotion and their calendular nappy cream sorts out everything – even on grown up skin!
Earth Mama Angel Baby – same as above – their nappy cream is awesome but their mama bits (perennial spray, sore bottom cream etc) are simply amazing post birth to help you heal.
SpaMagik dead sea salts – a must for a daily quick bath to help your bits heal
Other fav websites:
Jojo maman Bebe www.jojomamanbebe.co.uk
Mamas & Papas www.mamasandpapas.co.uk
Pumpkin Patch www.PumpkinPatch.co.uk (great value lovely clothes)
Books – This is a varied book list – I have them all and have used them all at some point in my child rearing career…
The Baby Book – Dr Sears – Very good book with answers to everything!
www.askdrsears.com – great website too
What to expect when you are expecting and what to expect in the first year – are great books too.