A hospital bag full of comfort
If I could have it my way, this baby will be birthed in the peaceful atmosphere of my own home, just like his older sister entered the world. However, the tricky thing about births is, you can't really plan for them. Now, that doesn't mean, you can't prepare for them though and all the possible outcomes.
So, just in case I end up having to go to the hospital this time around, I finally scrambled a few things together and packed a hospital bag. Alongside a few practical items, I packed it full of things that will provide me with "comfort" and hopefully put me at ease.
As you read through the list below you will surely find, that most items are about warmth, security and feeling well. Wether you give birth at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital - I believe it is most important that you exclude distractions and wear and surround yourself with things, that you know will make you feel good, "hyggeligt" really.
Since I do believe in a minimalist approach, I tried to keep it simple. Hospitals here provide you with diapers, some baby clothes and thick sanitary pads, so I didn't really have to pack any of that. Check with your hospital or birthing center to see what they will provide for you.
Nightgown/Birth gown. A few weeks ago, I realized that I don't actually own a fitting pair of pyjamas or nightgown, that I would want to bring out in public. Instead of ordering a cheap gown half-heartedly I looked up a Pinterest tutorial on how to sew a slouchy hospital gown. With the help of my friends, we sewed some stretchy organic fabric (oh my it is so soft!) into a great gown in no time. We added a deep V, to help me nurse my little darling. Before we got to sewing we had a lovely breakfast together and this morning alongside these strong females makes me cherish this garment so much more. It holds dear memories and loving wishes for me and my babe. I'm sure in the weeks to come you will see plenty of it. It will be such a comfortable thing to wear both during birth and after and instead of calling it a hospital gown, I lovingly refer to it as my gentle birth and postpartum comfort robe.
The warmest, softest wool slippers. It was so very important to me to have warm slippers around for birth, but more so even for the first couple of days with babe. My sheepskin slippers recently fell apart and so I was browsing Etsy for a wonderful substitute. It didn't take long until I stumbled across these and fell in love. Read more about them in the little section below.
A comfortable robe or soft knit cardigan to throw on. I actually packed both. The robe more so for the hospital and the cardigan for when it is time to leave.
Going home outfit. I packed a pair of comfy leggings, warm wool socks, old undies (I recommend not wasting your lovely pairs in the first pairs postpartum - it can be quite messy), an oversized tee and the cardigan mentioned above.
Soft organic cotton nursing bra.
Soft bamboo nursing pads.
Water bottle. If I can help it, I will stay of an IV drip for as long as I can. Not only is it so limiting in natural movement during birth, but also staying naturally hydrated is so important. During my first birth I took huge sips of water after every contraction.
Snacks. The same goes for food. See what policy your hospital has on eating during birth. Most likely, you won't be eating a pizza during birth, but some quick blood sugar booster can be life savers. I have nuts, protein bars and dextrose suckers ready. Your partner may need an energy boost, too.
Toiletries. Again, I tried to keep it minimal. My favorite lip balm, natural deodorant, toothbrush and paste, my face lotion, shampoo bar.
Pure sweet almond oil (for massages during birth, but also for after - last time I did not get a single stretch mark until after the baby was out), as well as a birth essential oil mix (they provide a diffuser at the local hospital. However, even having just a bottle of lavender oil to smell on might may calm you significantly during birth, or even lemon oil to give you a boost of energy).
Witch hazel postpartum spray. Lucky me, I didn't end up tearing really, during my first birth. Even so, it was so nice to have this to soothe my lady parts.
A favorite comfortable blanket and/or pillow. Hospitals can be a scary, cold place. In any case, it is nice and comforting to have a favorite piece from home with you.
Don't forget your birth partner - he deserves to be comfy as well. Sweatpants and a toothbrush are the bare minimum.
It is most important to me that baby is always warm and comfy, wrapped only in the most natural fibers from the get go. Therefore I packed:
An organic muslin swaddle.
An organic wool baby blanket.
One organic wool/silk onesie.
One organic cotton romper.
An organic wool suit to go home in.
The most wonderful knit baby booties. (I ordered them from my lovely Instagram friend Sarah at Brass Buttons & Babies - she finally opened up shop and I thought it was only right to be one of her first customers)
A wool hat (thanks to one of my wonderful friend, who is a much better knitter than I will ever be).
I also put a note on top of the bag to remind my husband to quickly throw in my cell phone, charger, and camera (check for battery and SD cards). This would also be a good time, to have a note ready with the phone numbers of our doula (I can recommend a birth and postpartum doula to anyone striving for a natural birth experience) and birth videographer (which is a dear friend and follow photographer, as well as a mother of four. She was the perfect addition to my "birth team" the first time around and didn't make feel uncomfortable at all. The video is still one of my most treasured things) as well as the pager number of our wonderful home birth midwife.
If everything goes smoothly and I do birth at home, I will still have all the items above handy, along with the following home birth essentials: disposable changing pads, thick sanitary pads, at least 3 tall and 3 small towels (we warm the small towels in the oven - this was such a relief on my back last time around - a cherry seed pillow could also be nice), a trash bag, a cleaning bucket and a bowl (for the placenta), smoothies in the fridge, 3 condoms filled with water and frozen (my midwife will utilize those in case of heavy bleeding or to reduce swelling due to heavy tearing), some calming records or birth music ready to go, my birth affirmations (which I could bring to the hospital, too I guess).
Did I forget something vital to bring me comfort and joy? Which items were absolute necessities for you? Please do share your stories with me. I always appreciate other mamas talking about their experiences.
I wanted to dedicate a small paragraph here to Agga and her wonderful Etsy store "Pure Iceland" . I wrote to Agga if she'd be willing to knit me a pair of her beautiful wool slippers in exchange for my photography skills. In working together with her I didn't' just end up with the coziest way to keep my (always) cold feet warm, but also got to know a very kind person behind an otherwise impersonal shopping experience. Agga first started knitting for her two girls. After a while, she found that she couldn't stop knitting, making warm gifts for friends and family, getting more and more hooked on the tranquility and coziness that follows the clicking of busy needles. She says she can be mostly found with knitting needles, a pile of wool and her furry companions by a crackling log of fire, with a cup of coffee or freshly baked cinnamon buns nearby (Hello "hygge", right?). Her knitting needles provide her with comfort and calm, just like her slippers are hopefully providing me with comfort and calm in the weeks ahead. Agga wrote me that a note of gratitude from a satisfied customer simply melts her heart and makes her day. And that statement, made me appreciate her product so much more. All of her items are hand knit of pure Icelandic wool and they are all based on the old Icelandic heritage of knitting. The wool is lightweight, warm and comfortable. Or as her favorite customer quote goes "It's like wearing a warm blanket". You can also find Agga on Instagram - @pureiceland.
(If you use code "HOUSEOFSMILLA123" at checkout, you will get $5 off your own pair of wool slippers)