Expecting Mums ask many questions in the lead up to giving birth. But there are always two universal questions have always stood out –
1) What on earth do you bring with you when giving birth?
2) What do you need prepped and ready for your arrival home?
You have been in the luxury of your nested home for 9 months and all of a sudden you are now thrown into the incredibly scary land of the unknown.
Well ladies (and gents), here are my two lists which helped me navigate my way through by first birth which has been passed down from my sister Caroline to me. As Caroline lives in London, she wasn’t physically in the country so her gift to me was making an insanely awesome baby list of what to get both during and post birth. Now, there are a million of these lists online however, I believe these ones I am now handing to you are extremely practical and honest. It also comes with some hilarious commentary from Caroline’s husband Ben and my husband Tom (so make sure you tell your partner to read it too!) and of course, my honest feedback.
My sister is not only an amazing mum, she is also an incredible Doctor so her experience and tips on what to give the staff at the hospital should not be taken lightly. I have given this list to my friends who have in turn passed it onto their friends and they have all loved it! I hope it helps you along the very daunting (but incredibly amazing) journey into motherhood.
Lastly, a huge thank you to my sister who is the wisest and most supportive person in the world!
LIST 1 – Pregnancy list for the Mum
Breast Pads: Do NOT scrimp and buy cheap home-brand breast pads. If you’re a dairy cow like me you will end up with breast milk all down the front of your top! I used A LOT of these. The best brands are Johnson & Johnson, Mendela and Rite Aid.
Ben: “Not the easiest to locate in the pharmacy”
Tom: “You’re a brave man.”
Maternity Pads: Libra extra-long maternity pads with wings (in the purple pack). I’ve heard some women recommend buying those big incontinence undies (essentially adult nappies) but I think that is going a little far! But you will definitely need some good quality maternity pads. Believe me when I tell you, normal ones are not going to cut it!
Tom: “… Yep.”
Emma: “Pay the money for the really good quality ones.”
Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs: Nipple cream is useless. Buy yourself a truckload of these. Put them in the fridge and use them on repeat for the first couple of weeks. They will save your nipples (or at least help them to feel a little better!)
Ben: “Really fun to try and describe to the pharmacy assistant”
Emma: “Exactly what Caroline said. Keep them in the fridge and use them over and over. Also, rub some breast milk on your nipples too before you put them on.”
Maternity Bras: Bonds – the best nursing bras in my opinion. They’re all wireless and cotton and they’re both comfortable plus supportive. Target cotton nursing crop tops. These are fantastic! They are light and comfortable (they don’t have any clips so you just pull the fabric to the side to nurse). It’s perfect for when your milk comes in and your boobs are enormous and so uncomfortable. Also, it is the most comfortable night time nursing bra I found. If anyone can find or recommend a great maternity sports bra please let me know!
Ben: “A challenge to buy in Target… I looked kinda creepy loitering in the maternity bra section.”
Emma: “If you have DOUBLE HH boobs like I did, you can forget Bonds and everyone else because it was near impossible to find a bra that fit me. Bravado High St Armadale were helpful.”
Underwear: No specific brand recommendations (although I went for cheap and cheerful Target and Bonds again). I strongly recommend buying only high-waisted black, cotton underwear for the immediate post-partum period. Even if you have a c-section it’s going to be total mayhem down there. So ladies DO NOT wear white undies! While you may not be planning on having a c-section, you never know what will happen so get yourself high-waisted knickers just in case (they sit above a c-section scar so don’t cause any rubbing or discomfort).
Ben: “Refer to Maternity bras comment”
Emma: “Black Bonds – can’t go wrong.”
Clothes: Button down nighties and PJ sets, you can’t get too many of these! You’re going to be nursing that baby constantly for the first 6 weeks so you might as well be comfortable and have easy access! Peter Alexander and ‘Keep it Personal’ do lovely PJ sets. Buy a cheap nightie from Target or Susan etc. for the first 72 hours (with the rapid changes in hormones and everything else that’s going on it will inevitably get covered in a combination of sweat, breast-milk and blood).
Other staple items: A nursing singlet(s) so you don’t flash your belly every time you’re feeding. You can buy these from either Target or Bonds. SRC Recovery shorts (they supposedly help bring your stomach muscles back together post birth). I found the compression they provided helped with my sore back. It is also good to have light weight cotton clothing. Again the hormone changes you get = sweating +. A nice pair of loose fitting black pants (Witchery and Seed do great versions) which will feel like you are wearing tracksuit pants but look much smarter so you can wear out and about.
Ben: “Have you guys tried the maternity pillow?!”
Tom: “Fantastic. I still use when I have a stiff back after training.”
Emma: “So glad this was helpful for you both! Your bodies must have gone through so much when WE were pregnant.”
Following up from that comment, get yourself one of those massive maternity pillows, amazing for the last 10 weeks of pregnancy (if your husband doesn’t steal it)!
Legoe Beautiful, good quality cotton basics
H&M or Topshop are great for maternity jeans
SRC pregnancy shorts or leggings (provided nice back support)
Active wear – (leggings will become your best friend!)
Loose fitting black trousers: Seed or Witchery have great versions on these (they’re also great for post-partum)
Sports bras: Your boobs will be huge so sports bras may become your only comfortable bra options
ASOS dresses: tTese can be a little hit and miss, but a lot of people love them
Private hospital stays in Australia for uncomplicated births tend to be around 3 to 5 days. So try to pack enough for roughly this period of time and have your bags packed from around 36 weeks (or earlier depending on what your obstetrician says). Private hospitals also usually provide a lot of products for you (nappies, ice-packs etc) and they typically specify what will be provided and give you their own hospital bag checklist. These are my recommendations below for what you should pack in your hospital bag:
Hospital bag for Mum:
- 8 pairs of high-waisted black undies.
- 4 nursing bras including x 1 ultra-soft nursing crop top (for day 3 when your milk comes in).
- 1 pack of breast pads (your milk doesn’t usually come in until around day 3 so you won’t need loads of them until then).
- 1 large box of Rite Aid Hydrogel Breast Discs (put them in the fridge in your room).
- 2 packs of Libra extra-long maternity pads with wings (in purple pack).
- If you have a vaginal delivery – 2 ice-packs (although most private hospitals provide disposable ones so you don’t need to worry).
- If you have a c-section you will need to wear compression stockings (hospital should also provide these)
- 1 or 2 crappy button fronted nighties. Wear one in labour if you’re having a vaginal delivery (if you have a c-section they will put you in a hospital gown). Regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or c-section, wear a comfy cotton nighty for at least the first 48 hours (a nighty makes it easier to change your underwear/maternity pads. Again, make sure it has buttons to allow for easy access for feeding. Don’t get beautiful and delicate nightgowns, they’re only going to get covered in sweat, breast-milk and blood!
- 1 or 2 pairs of button down PJs
- 1 or 2 cotton nursing singlets
- SRC recovery shorts. I wouldn’t bother wearing them for the first 24 – 48 hours. They offer serious compression so they’re can be pretty difficult to get on/off. It’s also hard if you are changing pads frequently or if you have a tender c-section scar to get them over. I did find the compression helped my sore back and I liked the feeling of all my wobbly bits being ‘held-in’ so I wore them daily from about 48 hours post-partum.
- Slippers or flip-flops (you don’t want to be walking the hospital hallways in bare-feet!)
- A ‘nice’ dressing gown (Again, you don’t necessarily want to be walking the hallways in just your PJs)
- A ‘going home’ outfit. This should be something comfy like trousers/leggings, a nursing singlet covered by a soft cardigan/jumper.
- Mobile phone and charger.
- Toiletries. You will be feeling fat, hot, sweaty, dirty, sore, emotional and generally a bit all over the place at times. Take some nice body wash, shampoo and moisturizer it’s amazing how much better you feel after a nice shower!
- Books, magazine, laptop, iPad etc. whether you have a planned c-section or vaginal delivery there will be a lot of waiting around so take something to keep you entertained.
- Plastic bags/laundry bag for dirty clothes.
Ben: “Netflix subscription is pretty good”
Tom: “Absolute must.”
Hospital bag for Baby:
- Cord Blood storage box. We used the Cell Care Company (if you are doing that).
- Onesies x 6
- Hats x 2
- Singlets x 4
- Muslin wraps x 5
- 1 x ‘good going home outfit. ’Don’t bother with mittens or booties. It is much easier to put your baby in PureBaby and Bonds onesies which have little cover-over bits for hands and feet. Also, mittens can be dangerous as they pull them off and it can be a choking hazard).
- Cotton nappies/terry-towelling cloths for cleaning up/feeding/burping although most hospitals will provide these to you for your hospital stay.
- Nappies and baby-wipes. Again, your hospital should provide these.
- Baby toiletries (bath wash + moisturizer)
- 1 x Blanket
Ben: “Their arms are surprisingly strong and the long finger nails are lethal!”
Hospital bag for Dad/birthing partner:
- Change of clothes and PJs (the hospital room I stayed in had a double bed so Ben stayed the whole 4 days with me).
- Snacks and drinks. These are mostly for hubby while you’re in labour! However, it is also really handy for the first couple of days when you don’t want to have to raid the vending machine.
- Books, magazine, laptop, iPad etc. you need something to keep him entertained.
- Boxes of chocolates and biscuits. It is nice to give these to your midwives and nurses as thank-you presents. You will seriously be the most loved couple on the ward!
- Thank-you notes (see above).
- Nice bottles of wine and thank-you notes for your obstetrician and paediatrician.
Tom: “Snacks and bonus for me was Emma giving birth in January when the cricket was on!”
In the car:
- Installed baby-seat or capsule.
- Window shade.
- Baby mirror (mirror attaches to the car seat so you can see your babies face in your rear view mirror).
- Fully stocked nappy bag.
Ben: “So that’s what those little metal isofix things are for…”
There you have it! The list of all lists!
Please be smart and know that this is the opinion of one person and all mothers bodies and babies are different, in no way should you take this as gospel. Take what you need from it. It also goes without saying that anything medically related to your bub seek professional advice.
LIST 2 – List of Baby Stuff. By Caroline Clapham.
This list is by no means exhaustive; it simply contains the baby products that I found helpful with Victoria (my sister’s daughter). Every baby/mother is different and you may find that none of the below is useful at all and that’s fine, just do what works for you!
General list for the Baby:
Muslin wraps: Emotion & Kid, Aden & Anais and Baby Sheridan are all great. Whichever ones you get, make sure they’re lightweight, cotton and large. Even if you don’t swaddle/wrap your baby they’re multipurpose and also handy as blankets, nursing covers, pram covers, emergency play mat etc.
Nappies: Huggies – the ONLY nappies in my opinion! But I have heard that Tooshies by Tom are great nappies too.
Cotton nappies/terry-towelling cloths: I’ve never used them as actual nappies, but they’re super handy as nursing covers/to catch/mop up breast milk. Plus, they are really great for cleaning up never ending mess.
Ben: “Cotton nappies look like normal towels with no leg holes. Rookie error.”
Sleeping bags: Ergo Cocoon, these come in a range of different weights (thin ones for summer, thick for winter) and they have handy little press-studs so your baby can have their arms either in or out!
Emma: “I love the Ergo ones.”
Ben: “Man, they look comfortable!”
Baby clothes: Purebaby and Bonds are the best newborn baby clothes by far! The Bonds wondersuits are seriously the greatest invention of all time!. Honourable mentions to Baby Gap, Petite Bateau and Jacardi (note French sizes run really small), Seed and Country Road for cute things. Target do pure cotton vests and short and long sleeved, no-legs onesies that are fantastic (and great value for money). My tip is to buy loads of these as some will inevitably get SO dirty you will throw them straight in the bin.
Ben’s comments: “Much easier if you buy clothes with zips. Those studs are confusing, especially in the dark.”
Emma: “Clothes with zips! Don’t bother with the cute button ones and agreed, those Bonds Wondersuits are life.”
Bottles: Victoria was extremely finicky with drinking from a bottle. She point blank refused between the ages of 2 to 6 months. When she would take the bottle it was either the Avent Classic or the Nuk Classic (fantastic German brand that a lot of people swear by).
Ben: “Go Germany!”
Emma: “We went through every single bottle brand. I even had some special ones from America imported. We settled with Avent and still use them.”
Sippy cup: The Pigeon MagMag cup was recommended to me by my mum (it was the only cup all 4 of us kids would drink from) and by some miracle, it’s the only sippy cup Victoria would take too! It has a great soft spout that seems to make it easier for babies to drink from.
Ben: “Sippy cups rule! Real baby achievement.”
Emma: “B Box Essential Sippy cup are the winner for me.”
Baby food: We started weaning Victoria from around 4 months (this is the Australian recommendation). She started to take the sippy cup at about 5 months and really started to eat ‘solids’ from around 5 months. Every baby is different, so it’s so important to do what works best for you and your baby. My advice when you begin looking into baby food is to be careful by always trying to check the ingredients list and trying to only use the ones that have no additives and no sugar.
Ben: “First foods= so much mess.”
Bassinet: I’m a big proponent for having your baby sleep in the room with you initially (this is also the recommendation for SIDs safety). As Victoria was a terrible sleeper and fed A LOT overnight, I found a bassinet that could be safely kept up against our bed the easiest (it also meant I didn’t have to get out of bed 100 times a night!) I’m not sure if they have them in Australia but SnuzPod is fantastic, as is BedNest. Another product lots of mother’s swear by is the CocoonBaby Nest. You can put your baby in this and then in either a bassinet or cot. Victoria didn’t really sleep in hers, but definitely worth a shot if you’re having difficulties finding the right sleeping arrangement for your little one.
Ben: “Babies make funny noises when they sleep,”
Emma: “We also used the Cocoon Baby nest and LOVED IT! Also helped Belle with her silent reflux.”
Prams: Prams are all about personal preference. We have ended up with 3 prams (ridiculous I know). The Cybex Pram for everyday, a BabyZen YoYo for travel (it folds up small enough to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane which is amazing!) and a Dream Design jogging pram for running with. Whatever you end up going with, try to get something that’s good quality as your baby is going to be in it a lot from the ages of 1 month to 3 years and the pram gets battered around A LOT!
Ben: “Prams required = Number of Babies + 2.”
Emma: “We were the same. Cyber X for the main one… ZOE Travel stroller (however I would now recommend the Yoyo).”
Baby Capsule: We used the MaxiCosi Mico AP Infant Carrier. It only lasts for about 6 months, but it means you can get your baby in and out of the car without disturbing them and you can fix the capsule to most pram bases which is super handy. It’s quite expensive for something that you will only get 6 months use out of, but I think it’s worth it (even better if you can borrow someone’s!)
Ben: “Car to coffee in one go.”
Emma: “Invest in one as they are amazing, or try and borrow. And for the fellow Geelong people – hello drive through coffee places!”
Baby-carrier: If your baby has reflux, a baby carrier is going to be your lifesaver (I basically carried Victoria for the first 3 months of her life as it was the only position she was happy in). We went with the Baby Bjorn Classic and I was happy with it. A lot of women say the Ergo baby carrier is comfier, while men tend to prefer the Baby Bjorn. I found the fabric sling versions, which look really cute to be far too hot to wear in Australia. Whatever you go for, strap that baby to you and get walking!
Ben: “Chick magnet.”
Tom: “Not sure what you are talking about Ben.”
Baby toys for the first 6 months: In my opinion (and my experience of n=1!) these are the only baby toys you need for the first 6 months (your toy library will rapidly expand after this):
– Intertwined colourful rings (amazingly these provide endless hour of entertainment)
– Sophie the giraffe
– Teething rings
– Colourful play mat
– Toy book (one of those ones that makes rustling noises. I recommend the ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ soft book)
Ben: “What is it about Sophie? iPad Garage Band is also a hit!”
Tom: “Bloody Sophie… But, yes they love it!”
Baby Swing: These bad boys can be expensive and like the baby capsule will only last around 6 months, so if you can find one to borrow, go for it! We had the ForMoms MamaRoo and it was great. We also used the Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny (a cheaper option, not as sleek looking). Both worked great and for the first 6 months may be the only way you can get in the shower!
Ben: “Endless entertainment with Bluetooth control.”
Tom: “Very fun when you can choose the music to go with it.”
Baby bath: We have the Stokke Flexi-bath. It is fantastic as it folds up flat so it’s really easy to take with you when travelling. You can also get a nifty newborn insert which keeps them from slipping away from you and drowning!
Ben: “Splish, splash I was taking a bath.”
Tom: “We actually went for one of those baths in the stands as I couldn’t bend down with my back. So, if you are tall like me, I would highly recommend the stand-up ones.”
Written by Emma Hawkins
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