You're super pregnant. The bassinet is set up. The car seat is installed. The dog has slept with one eye open for weeks while you contemplate shaving him as your eye twitches watching the clump of fur bounce across the floor. At 2 am. From your 3rd trip to the bathroom. You've past the glowing stage. You're done glowing. Unless impatience makes you glow. Then you may as well be a glow stick at a rave concert. Maybe if you repack your hospital bag for the 8th time it will let the pregnancy God's know that THE BABY CAN COME NOW!?! *insert death glare at the sky*. If only it worked like that.
Self care may be the last thing on your mind as your repack that hospital bag. But for me, it was my main focus. After dealing with Postpartum Depression, and watching my Sisters (near and far) struggle with everything from baby-blues to severe PPA, I knew going into my second birth I would make my mental health a priority. From COVID safety, to business pivots, to panic attacks - this pregnancy has been a lot rockier than my first. Which has led me to become a little anal about my game plan for Postpartum, and why my self care is at the top of my "to pack" list, even as a minimalist.
Feeling "clean" was something I craved after the birth of our daughter. Because I work and live in such an aromatic environment, the thought of not smelling nice was something that pushed on my crazy-button all too frequently, especially as my hormones balanced out. Justin swears I never smelled bad, but to be honest, he's a smart man, and knows when to (lovingly) lie to his excessively hormonal wife. (He honestly deserves a medal for how well he's coped with my pregnancy *cough*rage*cough* hormones.) That's why my self-care bag is aromatically inclined. Keep in mind that most hospitals have scent policies, so dousing your room with essential oils may be prohibited (and isn't recommended for newborns), which is why I stick with my favourite personal care items that aren't too over powering. Here are my must-haves:
- Solid Lotion Stick (Lavender-Lemon): Easy to apply and makes my skin feel replenished after a long day or sleepless nights. This combination of Organic Lavender & Lemon essential oil was the outcome of my last pregnancy. It's relaxing but uplifting at the same time, making it ideal to have around to help ease the drop in hormones.
- Deodorant: Since switching to our natural deodorant in 2015, I find that I seldom need to apply. I use it predominantly for date nights or prior to physical exertion. It being the start of a very hot summer and knowing how the change in hormones affects my natural scent, I'll be utilizing my deodorant a little more frequently proceeding delivery until they balance out. (Pink Lemonade is my favourite!)
Shampoo Bar/Solid Bathing Bars: We love our zero-plastic shower bars- especially when it comes to travel or overnight stays away from home. I cut single use slices off our bars and placed them in a reusable beeswax wrap. This not only reduces waste and ensures we don't have to stray from our usual sensitive-skin care items, but also takes up a lot less room in our go-bag too!
Little Bum Body Butter: This is my favourite can't-live-without feel-good product. And not just for the baby. Infused with Calendula, Lavender & Chamomile, this unscented butter is a multipurpose haven. Although my main reason for bringing this is for the little one's tooshie, I use this regularly for a deep facial moisturizer, makeup remover, nipple cream and body lotion. Just make sure you always use clean hands to apply- and never double dip with the same finger!
Other items included in my feel-good bag:
- Food and water bottle: Snacks. All the snacks. I remember being famished after Keira was born, and was so happy we were gifted a can of trail mix! I also relied heavily on giant cups of ice water, and will be bringing a large reusable bottle this time around to reduce plastic waste and to limit the amount of times we need to leave the hospital room. (Although walking to and from the ice machine helped get me moving and improved recovery time - so remember to MOVE!)
- Music: Keeping focused on my favourite music while in labour is a way I plan to help navigate my pain and mental focus through contractions. Justin's also a great dancer, and will happily sway with me just about anywhere. Depending on my mood, you will likely hear anything from Taylor Swift, to the Tragically Hip, to Metallica coming from our room. Whatever gives you emotional guidance and release, play that. If you don't have Spotify on your phone already, I highly recommend signing up for the free trial for your labour! No need to create a playlist, and one less thing you need to think about prior to the big day! If you're like me and enjoy feeling the bass, you may want to invest in some good headphones so you can blast it without disturbing other mamas and your hard working health care team.
- Favourite shawl/open sweater: I fully plan on wearing a hospital gown (one less thing I need to wash when we get home!). However, during times of anxiety, I have a favourite sweater I love to wrap myself up in. It's open in the front so I can easily wear it over my gown should I decide to walk the halls to help encourage labour. Plus, it always smells like home. And there's nothing much more comforting and feel-good than that.
So whether you're begging the pregnancy God's to hurry up, or you're enjoying your last weeks happily glowing and bouncing along on your birthing ball, please remember that investing in your self care is the best way to prepare for your newest addition. You got this. You're going to ROCK this. I'm rooting for you, Mama! <3
Have more feel-good essentials that you LOVED having in your hospital bag? Share below and help other Mamas get ready!