One of the more enjoyable ways to distract yourself from impending labour is to pack, unpack and re-pack your hospital bag. Several times. It starts out as a bit of fun, but once you get the Interwebs involved it can become a panic-stricken nightmare of epic proportions.
Every second mummy blogger claims to have written the “ultimate hospital bag checklist.” They all start off the same (PJs, slippers, the usual). It’s when they try to stand out from the pack that things get crazy. Read enough blogs and you’ll end up filling an overnight bag, two green shopping bags and a Dora the Explorer backpack you pinched off your niece.
To help keep things simple, I’ve listed some of the more useless and ridiculous suggestions below. Cross them off your checklist or remove them from your hospital bag immediately, and pop in a nice tube of hand cream instead.
1. Button-up nightie
Seems like a sensible option. Until you start shopping for one. After trying every major department store and lingerie shop it will become glaringly obvious that nobody under the age of 72 needs one of these. When you do eventually find one, tucked away in the back of your local Fella Hamilton, it will be floral. It will be polyester. And it will go down past your knees. Put it back immediately. Your milk won’t even come in for a few days, so while you’re in the hospital you can get away with a loose tshirt or a singlet top and your comfy, familiar PJ pants. Nobody cares what you’re wearing, and a floral nightie will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.
2. Your favourite snacks
Many checklists suggest bringing your favourite snacks to keep the energy levels up during labour. I took a few bananas, a box of Cheese-in-a-Biskit and some apricot fruit bars. Prior to having a baby, these were my go-to snacks. Now I can’t look at them without gagging – the smell takes me straight back to that room. Don’t ruin your favourite treat forever. Just ask for a hospital sandwich and be done with it.
3. Scented candles
Here’s a hot tip – you can’t have an open flame in a hospital room. So scrap that particular notion. However, someone IS going to suggest that you buy some battery-operated, LED candles with the faux flickering flame instead. This is a bad idea for many reasons, but the main ones are a) they are tacky and b) they are tacky. Trust me, they will not add to the calm, serene ambience you are trying to create. And if you forget to dim the lights they will just sit there pretend-burning for absolutely no reason.
4. Old squeezy sauce bottle filled with salt water
For a time, I thought this seemed so clever. If I end up needing stitches (which I did), why not keep this clever device next to the toilet so I could give my nether-regions a quick squirt to help the healing process? Ingenious. But as time went by, I started to question the sanity levels behind this particular suggstion. Visitors would ask why I had a cupboard full of empty Heinz Big Reds and a Tupperware container full of McDonalds salt sachets. It wasn’t until I actually visualised going through with this that I abandoned it altogether. I knew I’d either start laughing, fall over or accidentally squirt a blob of old sauce up there. Time heals all wounds – salt water just bloody stings.
5. Long BBQ tongs
Yep. Trust me. I’ve seen these on several lists. You see, after a c-section it can be tricky to do normal things like bending, reaching and lifting. But packing a pair of BBQ tongs in your hospital bag will only make you look a couple of snags short of a barbecue (so to speak). Plus, you’re in hospital. With a buzzer. A magical little buzzer that allows you to request help at the push of a button. Let them do the heavy lifting for a while.
6. Frozen condoms (see also: Zooper Doopers)
People LOVE to get creative these days. I blame Pinterest. But sometimes it can go overboard. Take the idea of shoving a frozen condom in your undies to help with the swelling, for instance. Are we serious with this? Firstly, most hospitals will provide disposable ice packs to pop in your undies. Secondly, let me paint a visual picture:
You’re heavily pregnant, standing at the kitchen sink with a box of Durex, tearing open the wrapper with your teeth. You pop the little fella under the tap like an oversized waterbomb and wait for it to fill up with water. Then you attempt to tie a knot in the end without it bursting all over your kitchen. Next, you gently place this delicate condom in the freezer alongside the peas and mixed berries. Next day your waters break. It’s time! Grab the hospital bag, waddle to the front door, turn to your panicked partner and scream, “The condoms! Quick! Get the frozen condoms!” Still keen? Yeah, didn’t think so.
The best advice is not to overthink it. PJs, slippers, toiletries, a 10-pack of black granny panties from Target, maternity pads, phone charger, Wondersuits, nappies and baby wipes. There, you’re set. If you’ve forgotten something you can ask a friend or relative to pop out and grab it for you. Chances are you’ll be so busy staring at your new baby that the thought of shoving a frozen condom into your knickers will be the furthest thing on your mind.
What other items did you pack for the hospital that you didn’t end up using? Let us know in the comments section below.