It’s always exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time when an expectant mother enters her third trimester. I have four children, but with every child the preparations felt like a first-time mother.
There are essentials that an expectant mother will need to carry that will help them during labour, birth and after the baby is born. A lot of first-time mothers-to-be wonder what should be inside a maternity hospital bag? If your due date is just around the corner, make sure your hospital bag is packed and ready with this handy checklist we have prepared.
There are must-haves (and some nice-to-haves but not a necessity) for the hospital. This list is a good starting point, but every hospital does things differently, so ask ahead of time what they will supply and what you need to bring from home.
Here are mothers sharing their experience in preparing their clinic maternity bag and a health experts’ checklist for you.
Mariam - mother of four kids
Mariam Masele*, 36, a school teacher at Kimanga Primary School is a mother of four children. Three years ago she delivered her last born at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).
Mariam didn’t anticipate an early labour, which was two weeks before her due date. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t prepared.
Mariam had prepared her maternity bag one month prior to her due date. This is what she packed.
• 3 pairs of khanga
• 2 sets of baby clothes that are unisex in colour and each set includes a romper, socks, hat and mittens.
• Unscented, mild soap
• 2 sets of maternity dresses
• 5 pairs of medical gloves
• 3 injection syringes
• Cotton wrapped in a cloth (that she uses as maternity pads)
• Diapers for the newborn
• Thermos (to put warm water or hot black tea)
• Baby blanket
Dr Julius Twoli, a general physician based at Bagamoyo District Hospital says it is important for expectant mothers to prepare their hospital maternity bag before they reach week 36. It is also advised for an expectant mother to be with her maternity bag wherever she goes when she hits week 36, Dr Twoli says.
“I know it is challenging to walk around with the maternity bag everywhere but it is advised as labour can’t be anticipated. Some hospitals, especially government hospitals, prefer women to have their own maternity essentials,” says Dr Twoli.
Adding to that he says, before a woman packs her maternity bag, she needs to check with the hospital ahead of time as to what will be provided and what needs to be brought from home.
“Majority of private hospitals will only require new mothers to bring newborn baby clothes and few pairs of khanga. However it is advised for a woman to carry her things just in case,” Dr Twoli says.
Adding to Mariam’s list, here is what Dr Twoli suggests:
• Maternity pads
• Breast pads
• Breastfeeding bra
• Mobile phone, charger
• Insurance card and hospital documents if any
• Muslin cloths
32-year-old Josephine Lawrence, a civil servant and a mother of two believes in a birth plan.
She learned about a birth plan when she was expecting her first child, where she came across a book named ‘Mahali Pasipo Na Daktari’ (places where there are no doctors).
She says the book helped her to come up with a birth-plan that included preparing a maternity bag, arranging for a person beforehand to take you to the hospital when need be and also prepare for a person to stay back at home if you have other children.
She says, the book recommends women to share their experiences with regards to maternity bag essentials and the changes over the years. Like back in the days, the umbilical cord used to be tied with a thread but these days there is a special clamp for that purpose.
“There is no limit when it comes to learning. It is important for women to share knowledge so that no one should be left behind as we all know giving birth is not easy. I only carry few things in my maternity bag as I always find most of it at the hospital. I only carry three pairs of khanga, three pairs of vitenge and a maternity dress,” says Josephine.