Motherhood, Musings, Women's Issues

hospital bag

May 25, 2015

When people approach me in work with their maternity hospital lists (it’s a large chemist in case that needs explaining), it’s all I can do to keep a straight face…. so much useless shit and euphemisms. Let me walk you through some of the current recommended items for a pregnant lady’s hospital bag and explain the reality.               If you are currently expecting your first child, stop reading immediately, there is nothing to see here, these are not the droids you’re looking for.

sat 10 25 02Loose fitting nightdress or an old long t-shirt; Good advice indeed. Many deluded girls buy beautiful, expensive pyjamas with visions of a 1950s movie where they will be handed a 6 month old child after 2 pushes and smile radiantly at their partner without creasing their silk nighties. I have previously mentioned the story of my Mam destroying her elegant nightdress after a vigorous enema when labouring on me (always thrown in my face in an argument). The reality is that after birth your nightdress is fit for a Damien Hirst exhibition or an incineration. There will be all kinds of body fluids on it… blood, sweat, vernix, vomit and if you’re very unlucky like my Mam, your own shite. I recommend wearing your partner’s favourite t-shirt.


Womens-Disposable-Briefs-for-Heavy-Incontinence-G88080FRSPDisposable underwear and maternity pads; again, good advice. I have had many ladies ask for maternity pads and visibly flinch when they see the ginormity of them and proceed to ask where the regular maxi pads are. How can I explain without scaring them that they will bleed like a stuck pig (I’ve never understood this expression and I am definitely not googling it) and it’s not like a regular period bleed, it’s a years worth of periods in a couple of weeks. Good luck switching one pad for the next, a game of roulette in itself. My post-baby bed wear has always consisted of disposable pants made sexier with a naval to base of spine pad and a giant nursing bra stuffed with breast pads. Nothing sexier than a lady who has just given birth, I may pitch a calender idea.


ar4950Cotton wool: This causes a lot of concern for new parents. They are being told by every parenting blog and health professional to stock up on cotton wool balls. They’re not entirely sure why but they know that these along with Vaseline are mandatory when having a baby. My seasoned sister told me to get wipes but I was afraid and opted for the cotton wool balls. The nurses have some serious issues with wipes (too 21st century and easy to use) and go Ratched on you if they see you with them. You are “encouraged” to procure cooled, boiled water and cotton wool to clean the baby’s bum. It proved so stressful and time-consuming that on baby 2 and 3 , I’d gotten brave. If they approached with a scornful eye on my wipes, I’d counter quickly with “he’s not my first”. This seemed to sate them and I’d already earned major nursey points by breast-feeding (well done Mum!… gotta love the patronising). You also had to use cotton wool and water for bathing the baby and I was itching to get at them with some Johnsons but waited till home as I didn’t want to push my luck and have social services arrive at the hospital for my flagrant disregard for 1960s midwifery.

 Hair bobbins and brush.. “yes I spent all three of my labours brushing my hair and trying out new hairstyles, I actually learnt how to french plait and fishtail”… said no mother ever!


Now to the ridiculous….


Massage oil or lotion for if you would like to be massaged during labour.

Young pregnant woman enjoying in spa treatment. perineum_massage_oilI wanted to punch my husband in the face if he accidentally brushed off my leg but to each their own. Speaking of massage, in the weeks before birth it is recommended to massage your perineum which involves knuckles and vaginas and is supposed to help prevent an episiotomy. My enormous girth prevented me from being physically able to do this and it was not something I was willing to ask for outside help on as I already felt like a big, unsexy lump and that would feel like rubbing salt into the would (kinda literally). Also if I’m using the massage card, I ‘d rather my feet or lower back but I did have a serious episiotomy so perhaps I should have given the unpleasantness a try.


Snacks and drinks; toast-tea-17767981I cannot believe that any woman could think of food while a watermelon is making it’s torturous way through her body with a spectacular exit strategy. There is nothing on earth like the tea and toast you receive when all is done but during the ordeal I’m too busy vomiting down the front of my sodden nightie, rabid on gas and air and trying to ignore the 6 million tubes I have inserted into every orifice to think about an egg salad sandwich. It was a joy however to watch my husband snack on Mars bars and play angry birds on his phone while giving my leg an occasional sympathetic squeeze.

 Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as a CD you have made… No, just no. I am not bringing my baby into the world with knobby, pretentious music. Will you have me suppress my screams like Katie Holmes, have candles lit, whale music playing and a doula? I can’t, I’d be scarlet for myself, I’m too Irish. I like to spend the downtime whinging and my third was born to the sound of farting. It was uncontrollable and shocking but I wasn’t apologising. This explains a lot as Rian does seem soothed by gassy noises.


Arnica cream. Although there’s no conclusive evidence that it works, some women report that arnica cream helps to reduce the bruising and helps the healing process. Don’t apply the cream to broken skin. I don’t understand this… where do you suggest I apply it… I’m broken … everywhere.


A water spray for your face to cool you down, ha, it’s not my face that needs cooling but I suppose it would prove a hard marketing campaign for cooling your “ring of fire” although I know a catchy jingle. going-home outfit; Kate Middleton has set the bar high for this one. Maybe I’m a freak but I was still fat for months after having a baby so the maternity clothes I arrive in fit me quite snugly on the way out, normally leggings and a long shapeless top… come to think of it, 2 years later I’m still wearing that particular uniform. Unfortunately there wasn’t a hairdresser/ make-up artist/ stylist available in the Rotunda and I certainly wouldn’t have worn a lemon dress for varied reasons (partly because yellow makes me look washy and mostly because it’s not conducive for hiding haemorrhages).

So, when packing for the hospital all you need are a couple of nasty old t-shirts, huge pads (for everywhere), leggings, wipes and a birthing partner to abuse horribly. All the rest are bells and whistles designed to distract you from the messy task in hand. I’m not forgetting the baby bag but that’s full of sensible stuff and doesn’t warrant a slagging. I have concentrated on the negative aspects of birth but anyone who knows me, knows I actually love labour, the last part when you see your little creation for the first time, it’s a feeling like no other and the unfathomable horror that got you to that point blurs and fades.

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  • Reply Áine Bissett May 25, 2015 at 9:51 am

    So true!! I actually brought a deck of cards in to Hollies St what was I thinking!!!!

    • Reply Aisling May 25, 2015 at 10:03 am

      A deck of cards, lol

  • Reply Jen May 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Ha ha ha hilarious. Love that V baby. I brought skinny maternity pads to the hospital and the midwives basically laughed at me.

    • Reply Aisling May 25, 2015 at 11:20 am

      I’d love to be a nurse peeking through first time mothers hospital bags, some think it’ll be a day at the spa

  • Reply Irish Parenting Bloggers | hospital bag May 25, 2015 at 11:40 am

    […] By Aisling […]

  • Reply Fionnuala May 26, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I honestly haven’t laughed that much in ages. Thank you! That is a fantastic read!
    I actually did want food during labour with my first and second but the nurses wouldn’t let me. They did let my husband have the breakfast that was planned for me but I wasn’t allowed because the labour was so long and the baby hadn’t arrived yet.
    I always tell people to bring a mini bottle of prosecco in their bag. I did each time and drank it the day after the birth. Good for milk production they say.

    • Reply Aisling May 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      O wow prosecco..what a great idea! Why did I not know of this??? That’s amazing you were hungry, I think the gas and air made me nauseous. I’m glad your husband was fed well lol.

  • Reply Nikki May 27, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Great read and so true. On my first I arrived with a suitcase, and on my third I had a ziploc Baggie with a couple of nappies, vest, baby grow, wipes and a ratty nightie. Small holdall was in car. I had 2 emergency sections, so my third was a planned section. I had great plans for a natural childbirth on first 2 but after a shocking amout of time in labour, it just didn’t work out. I think midwives were a bit surprised by my ziploc approach, but I was sick of carrying crap around the last couple of times….. Given I was a planned section, I did a couple of things differently this time. I got a decent wax along the future scar area a couple of days beforehand, hurt like you read about, but worth it during recovery. Also bought a load of 100% cotton granny knickers in dunnes and basically threw them out when used.

    • Reply Aisling May 27, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      A ziploc bag! That’s hilarious. There was a girl opposite me on my 3rd who was wheeled back from delivery and straight away changed into magnificent pjs and spent an hour doing a full face of make up, foundation and all. She then put her hair in an upstyle. She was really young too, I was agog. Put the whole ward to shame.

  • Reply Janette dowdall June 3, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I’ve never been through any of it in reality but after reading this one I feel like I have…….God….my God……

    • Reply Aisling June 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I should tour schools

  • Reply Stephanie (OurNextFewSteps) September 22, 2015 at 9:14 am

    This post is so so accurate. I spent weeks researching what to pack and turned up with a lovely bag full of itty bitty travel soaps and lotions and shampoo- I was in far too much pain and far too busy and echausted to get in the shower till I got home. I ended up in just a hospital gown with my bum hanging out the back flap when I gave birth but the old nighty I picked up in primark served wonders for when I wandered around the ward braless and trouserless because all those parts hurt too much.


    • Reply Aisling September 22, 2015 at 9:32 am

      We should have co written that post ha ha ha.

  • Reply Jen @ 4,128 miles September 22, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Ha ha! Baby number two is arriving in 8 weeks so I am just about starting to think about a hospital bag… Baby number 1 arrived in 1.5 hours flat so I don’t remember an awful lot about the first time round. I wish it really was as good as that time-frame sounds! I do remember, when I eventually came round from the shock, being told off for my lack of maternity pads and also that I didn’t have enough clothes for the bubba (it was a heatwave and the midwife wanted vest, baby grow, hat, cardigan!) so hopefully I’ll be better prepared this time! Or not. Doesn’t your labour halve… Yikes! #twinklytuesday

    • Reply Aisling September 22, 2015 at 9:45 am

      you are one of the lucky ones… mine went on and on and on… I’d say move to he hospital on the first pang; you have 45 mins lol

  • Reply Megan - Truly Madly Kids September 22, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    This should be printed and handed out with maternity notes at your booking in appointment. Excellent writing yet again! #twinklytuesday

    • Reply Aisling September 22, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks so much but I think we’d scare the first timers into early labour

  • Reply Caro | The Twinkles Mama September 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Awesome. So, so true!! I Googled these lists of ‘what to take to hospital’ when the boys were due and NO-ONE actually tells you what you *really* need!! I had a c-section too so my list was slightly different anyway but even so… this is fabulous!! Thanks for linking up to #TwinklyTuesday — much appreciated x

    • Reply Aisling September 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks, you’ll have to do your own c-section list now 😉

  • Reply Twinkly Tuesday, September 29, 2015 | How Do You Do It? September 29, 2015 at 6:01 am

    […] is from Fazed and Confused. Aisling wrote a hysterical piece explaining the nitty gritty of why our hospital bags contain the things they do, from her experience as a mother and working in a […]

  • Reply Musing Mumma September 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Bahaha! Just add giant knickers to the list (in case of a c-section) and you have the ultimate sexy mummy list. Yes, I think a calendar is definitely in order. Let’s get those post-birth jelly bellies out! #twinklytuesday

    • Reply Aisling September 29, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Giant knickers! Of course…I’m still wearing them 3 years after my last birth x

  • Reply Claire at Tin Box Traveller September 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Brilliant! No one can quite explain the bleeding until it happens to you. The bigger the pad the better! I also refused to listen to any music during my first labour much to Mr TB’s boredom. I didn’t care. I was otherwise occupied and really didn’t want the distraction #twinklytuesday

  • Reply Martin Ryan October 31, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Hi Aisling. Been reading your blog since I came across it after your piece on Pat & Sean’s wedding. That was so good I kept reading and came across this. I honestly had to stop reading a few times to prevent an attack of the hiccups…something that happens if I laugh too much after eating. This really deserves to be read by more people (millions more, if possible) so I’ll pass it on via the usual and hope many more do the same.

    • Reply Aisling October 31, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks so much! Millions would be good ha ha…spread the hiccups

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