Parenting journalist and mum of two, Eleanor Tucker, talks us through the lifesavers that got her through labour. Add these to your hospital bag NOW!
TENS machine Brilliant for so many reasons but mainly because they ACTUALLY WORK. Plus adjusting the intensity gives your partner something genuinely useful to do.
Sweets You might think labour is no time for Fruit Pastilles. Wrong. I relied on a range of confectionary to rival my local corner shop. The sugar keeps your energy up, and gas and air can make your mouth all yucky and dry, so sucking really helps.
Your scruffiest nightie First time around I spent ages ordering glamorous maternity nightwear. The reality was, it got so covered in every kind of bodily fluid you can imagine that I wanted to take it off and bin it the minute my baby had popped out.
Wipes Labour is a hot, sticky, icky business. Stock up on wipes so you can keep yourself fresh in between contractions.
Socks Your body is doing some strange stuff when you’re in labour. And because it’s so busy pumping blood to your nether regions, your poor feet often get cold. I cut quite a dash in my husband’s enormous hiking socks, but I was really glad I’d packed them.
A hairbrush With baby number one, the post-birth photos were so bad they didn’t make it to the mantelpiece. Or Facebook. Or anywhere for that matter. If only I’d had a hairbrush. Thankfully, with number two, I packed one, and managed a quick smooth down of my matted, sweaty hair before I said: “Cheese”.
A dressing gown Labour can take ages. And nobody tells you this, but the beginning bit is really boring. So if you want to go for a wander about, you’ll need a cover-up, and believe me, those hospital gowns aren’t exactly ‘modest’.
Headphones This one was only partly for me – my husband nicked them when my groaning distracted him from the Clint Eastwood film he was watching on the labour-ward TV. The cord of the headphones also served as a handy throttling device when I noticed I’d lost his attention.
Flip-flops I didn’t think to take a pair to the hospital when I had baby number one, but I wish I had. After baby number two I was much more comfortable in the hospital shower with flip-flops on my feet.
Big pants Really big pants. Bridget Jones style. And not just one pair, make sure you pack a few. Post-birth is not the time for frilly and fancy. You just want BIG.
Nappies Now it may be stating the obvious that you’ll need nappies for a newborn. I just hadn’t appreciated quite how many. just4bums Mini are perfect for babies born weighing 6-13lb. My eyes water at the thought of newborns needing the next size up.