What’s going in your hospital bag as essentials? Here are our Top Ten Hospital Bag Essentials and Birthing Products, recommended by our Baby Centre birthing expert Jackie Heffer-Cooke. These products have been chosen following her many years of experience with hundreds of couples across the region, as well as her own experience in her own pregnancies. All of these products are available to purchase in our Bump, Birth and Baby Shop, or instore in our Norwich Bump, Birth and Baby Centre based at The Orange Grove Clinic.
All you need for a better birthing experience: Top Ten Birthing Products
Welcome to our Orange Grove Clinic Bump, Birth and Baby Shop. Preparation for labour is wise. If, like me, first time around you have done no preparation and expect to just ‘do labour’ (I had learnt well by the time my second came) you may be in for a bit of a surprise.
For some, like me at the time, tapping into natural birthing instincts doesn’t actually come naturally. We are so used to, as women of the 21st century, ‘doing’ stuff, we have forgotten how to tune into our bodies, breathe, trust in our body’s capabilities, relax, set the mind free… and just well birth. Add the fact that most of the time, in the middle of labour, just when it’s getting good, we actually have to move out of the safety and relaxation of our homes, sit in a car in traffic jams, and walk through car-parks and hospital corridors.
Well 21st century birth is a long way from finding a quiet cave, or a gentle piece of water and just simply birthing. But, if we strip away all the 21st century ‘stuff’, actually birth remains the same. Just a simple bodily process of letting our uterus muscle perform, allowing and working with that action, letting our mind stay steadily focused on our breath and on our success – the fact that it will all so be worth it.
A Better Birthing Experience: Be Calm
This is the reason I teach HypnoBirthing. This is what it’s all about. Helping mums and dads to feel empowered enough to have a good birth that they can actually enjoy! Yes, that’s right; labour can be an amazing positive experience. Even when birth takes a bit of a ‘tangent’ you can still walk away thinking wow – that was great. And what a start to a new life that is.
Being Prepared for Birth
Coming to a HypnoBirthing, Childbirth Preparation, or Pregnancy Yoga class will always help you sink into childbirth, as the knowledge of what will happen will calm you, the breathing will relax you and the relaxation techniques will still your mind so your body can focus on its fabulous job in hand. Looking after your body with other gentle exercise, acupuncture, relaxation, massage and shiatsu treatments, and nipping any pelvic gripes in the bud with osteopathy will also encourage a good pregnancy and a great birth. Your baby will enjoy the treatments too! After all they feel the same hormones as you do, make them lovely ones like Endorphins and Oxytocin
To help lead us towards a birth experience we will remember and enjoy, here are a few Birthing Products and hospital bag essentials that I fully recommend – these are my top ten!
Ok, let’s get this one out of the way. The better you prepare your perineal tissues for the stretching of birth, the less they will tear, and the better they will heal. Like training muscles to perform at their best in an athletic event, conditioning the tissues around the vaginal opening with massage prepares the perineum to perform. Reportedly, Midwives state that women who practice perineal massage daily in the last six weeks of pregnancy experience an easier second stage of labour. Added value of perineal massage is that it familiarises us with the stretching sensations in this area so we will more easily relax these stretching muscles just before the moment of birth.
It’s pretty tricky to do in the last few weeks, maybe ask a partner? Maybe not. We recommend ‘Down Below’ Massage Oil by ‘Motherly Love’. Jojoba oil and Avocado Oil reputed to be easily absorbed by the skin, allow your skin to ‘give’ more easily as your baby enters the world. You can buy this lovely oil here.
2. Raspberry Leaf Tea Bags and Capsules
Reportedly a uterine relaxant and tonic for strengthening and toning the womb as a preparation for labour. Also thought to assist the body in labour with contractions. Have a read around and chat to your midwife about it. Take from around 32 weeks pregnant. We’ve found a great tasting raspberry leaf tea, but also raspberry leaf capsules suitable also for vegans and vegetarians.
3. Pregnancy and Birth Ball
They feel wonderful to sit on in late pregnancy as they help support the struggling pelvis, and even better to sit on in the first stages of labour and to flop over during active more established labour. I wouldn’t give birth without one – I didn’t! We stock at the clinic shop a premium quality birth-ball, latex free, tested to the highest standards and a non-slip surface. It smells better than a gym ball – and is smoother. Make sure you buy the right size for you – when sitting on the ball your pelvis should always be higher than your knees. The ball comes with a pump, and is available in our baby centre shop in sizes 65cm or 75cm.
If you can relax into birth you will have a better birth experience. There are many ways to help achieve deep relaxation during labour through learning and practising breathing, relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques. It has been proven that if you do relaxation exercises with the same piece of music on all the time, then it starts conditioning your mind, so that when you need to relax on your birthing day, using that same piece of music will help the subconscious to relax the mind, and therefore the body too. Simply listening to lovely relaxation music as often as possible helps makes you feel super chilled.
We recommend ‘Steve Halperns’ Comfort Zone. Without getting too technical, the Alpha Sound Waves this music uses works in concert with the Alpha Brain – Alpha being the brain wave responsible when you’re are relaxed, as opposed to Beta Brain – the brain wave you need when you need to think, act, work and do stuff. When you’re birthing don’t think and do stuff – just relax and let it be… We also recommend ‘Snatam Kaur – Release and Overcome’. A yoga expert and friend of mine pointed me to this; I used it in my own birth for baby Sam, and it’s super chilled. Both CDS are available in our baby centre shop.
5. Relaxation Aromatherapy Oil
Likewise, you can use aromatherapy oils to anchor relaxation in the same way we use music. Smells bring a vivid sense of memory and if we use a relaxation aromatherapy oil every time we relax, in the bath, or just in general when we are feeling calm around the house, then when we smell the oil it will evoke a sense of relaxation from the recognition of the smell. Use it on your labour day either in your birth pool, or dab some on clothing, a hankie or a flannel and breathe it in.
We stock the wonderfully relaxing Lavender, the refreshing lemongrass and the calming and empowering Ylang Ylang in our range. We also stock room spray kits, so that you can make a room spray to use whilst in labour.
Oxytocin is the birth hormone. Endorphin is the body’s own pain killer. It goes without saying these are two hormones you want rocking around your body during labour. Massage promotes Oxytocin and Endorphins, also known to help the body feel calm and feel good. You can see how massage in labour usually helps. Giving massage is physical and emotional support, making pregnancy and the birthing experience more comfortable for birthing mum.
We recommend Motherly Loves Due Date Pregnancy and Labour oil to use pre-labour and for your hospital bag or home birth. A luxurious blend of omega rich oils with a warm citrusy scent. Citrus to revitalise and refresh and camomile to soothe overworked muscles. Motherly Love’s Pamper Bath Oil is a beautiful blend of Lavender, Coconut, Jojoba and Baobab Oil. Relaxing, soothing and comforting. An exquisite fresh woody fragrance with a hint of floral. Both of these products are available now in our baby centre shop online, and in store.
Again from our ‘Motherly Love’ Range, light, citrusy, uplifting fragrance, creating a beautiful muted floral scent. These pulse point fragrances come in Bergamot and Grapefruit, or Grapefruit and Rose. With their beautiful scents, they are designed to help you cope with new situations, revitalise and raise your spirits. A perfect size for your handbag or delivery bag. Available in store at our clinic, or online here.
8. Lavender Relaxation Spray and Lemongrass Energising Spray
So this one your birth partner can do for you. Spray it around the house to relax you into labour. Use it in the car to keep you calm. Smother the labour room with it to ease you into your new birthing space. And then, when you need to get some energy for the second stage of labour use the lemongrass to give you newfound energy and birth your baby good. We have some easy to use room spray kits, with either lavender or lemongrass essential oils.
9. Lip balm
Simply because lots of birthing ladies tell me it’s lovely when your mouth gets a bit dry. Choose something natural with a smell and taste you enjoy.
10. A Bendy Straw
Birth is fairly dehydrating – you need plenty of water. Your uterine muscle is working hard and your muscle tissue needs to keep hydrated to keep it surging smooth. When you’re in your established birth, rocking your birthing booty from side to side, breathing your golden thread or mooing like a cow (what a powerful sound – Sienna Williams ain’t nothing compared to a woman who takes to a moo in labour!) then the only thing you need is a lovely birth partner in front of you loving you with their eyes, and thinking you are all powerful and amazing, and offering the god’s nectar through a bendy straw straight into your mouth. When holding a glass just won’t do, a birth partner with a bendy straw will save the day! Available at any great bendy straw supermarket!
These products have been recommended by Jackie Heffer-Cooke, who is our resident childbirth specialist at The OGC Bump, Birth and Baby Centre, as well as Co-Director of The Orange Grove Clinic, Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Pregnancy Yoga Instructor, YogaBubs Baby Yoga Director and Practitioner, Pregnancy Massage Therapist, Author and Presenter of ‘How to take the labour out of labour’ DVD.
To purchase any of our birthing products, please go to our online shop here, or if you have any queries, please contact reception on , email [email protected] or go to our contact page. For pregnancy products and supplements, please go to our article by our nutritional therapist Catherine Jeans here, or for baby products and supplements, please click here.