Your hospital bag: The stuff you don’t need

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In those long final weeks of pregnancy, the Packing Of The Hospital Bag can become a bit of an obsession. During my first pregnancy I spent many hours researching, reading online forums and scanning the comments section of blogs to make sure I packed the “perfect” bag. This time around I know the truth: There’s no such thing.

You can read all the “Ultimate hospital bag checklists” you want, but after a while you’ll notice the same 10 items followed by a bunch of slightly eccentric suggestions.

To help keep things simple, I’ve listed some of the more useless and ridiculous suggestions I found in my research. If you’re making a checklist of your own, cross these items off and pop a nice tube of hand cream on there instead.

1. Button-up nightie

This always seems like a sensible option. Until you hit the shops and try to find one. After three stores you’ll realise this is not an item designed for any woman under the age of 72. When you do eventually find one tucked away in the back of your local Fella Hamilton, you can rest assured it will be floral. It will be polyester. And it will fall to your ankles. Put it back on the rack 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 t-shirt or a singlet top and your comfiest PJ pants. Trust me, with a newborn around nobody cares what you’re wearing, and a button-up floral nightie will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

2. Empty sauce bottle filled with salt water

When I first read this suggestion, I thought it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever heard of. Wow, so clever! So thrifty! So useful! If I ended up needing stitches (which I did), why not keep this clever device next to the hospital toilet so I could give my nether-regions a quick squirt to help the healing process? Ingenious. As I drew ever closer to my due date, I started to question the sanity levels behind this particular suggestion. Visitors to my house began asking 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 idea 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.

3. Scented candles

Image: Out With Audrey
Image: Out With Audrey 

Are you aware that hospitals don’t allow you to light candles? Don’t worry, neither are the 1,256 mummy bloggers who keep suggesting this. It’s a shame, but the absolute worst thing you can do is to take up the next “incredible suggestion” – the dreaded battery-operated, LED candle with faux flickering flame. These hideous little inventions do not recreate the soft, gentle ambience of a candle. They smell like plastic. They’re ugly. And you’ll feel like a massive dill if you go to all the effort of switching them on, only for the neone hospital lights to be on the entire time you’re in labour.

4. Long BBQ tongs

No, I’m not suggesting you whack a few snags on the barbie as your post-birth snack. This is one of the more common suggestions you’ll see on interwebs, mostly from women who have had a C-section. You see, this pesky procedure can make it difficult to do normal things like bending, reaching and lifting. So the idea is that you pack a pair of long-handled BBQ tongs in your hospital bag to help get the job done. My feeling is that it will simply make you look a couple of snags short of the barbie (so to speak). Leave the tongs at home and take full advantage of that buzzer. The magical buzzer that summons a helpful nurse to do all the hard work for you. You’re in hospital for a brief time – let someone else do the heavy lifting for a while.

5. Frozen condoms (yes, really)

This is hands down my favourite hospital bag suggestion. It’s on nearly every blog and forum I came across. People are obsessed with the idea of telling other people to go through with this. Sure, it makes sense. Fill a few empty condoms with water, chuck them in the freezer and then pop them in your knickers for some instant, cooling relief. I get it. I really do. But can you actually visualise going through with this? Allow me to demonstrate:

You’re heavily pregnant, standing at the kitchen sink with a box of Durex in hand, tearing open the wrapper with your teeth. You pop the limp balloon under the tap like an oversized waterbomb and wait for it to fill up. Then you’ve got to somehow tie a knot in the end without letting go and watching it explode all over your kitchen. Next, you gently place this delicate item in the freezer, right alongside your peas and mixed berries. Next day your waters break. Quick! It’s time! Grab the hospital bag, waddle to the front door, turn to your panicked partner and scream, “The condoms! For God’s sake don’t forget frozen condoms!” Still keen? Yeah, didn’t think so.

What’s the most pointless thing you packed for hospital? Let us know in the comments below!