I wrote a list when packing the bag I’d take with me to the hospital to give birth to my baby girl. I was fairly vague about the clothing and entertainment aspects – “Something baggy, something cashmere, that scarf with all the leopard print…” – but I really went to town on my makeup and wash bags. As anyone who has had a baby will tell you, the list, the makeup and the moisturising treatment mask are about as relevant as the birth plan – so, not at all then. But still, as my beauty bits and the little rituals I do everyday are somewhat of a security blanket when I’m away from home, it was important to me to make that a part of my hospital bag, especially as I was really unhappy at the thought of an overnight stay. Being the lucky beauty editor I am, I had a vault of products to choose from, and so it also provided a nice distraction from the stack of maternity pads looming within my Mulberry… Here’s what I took, and what I wish I had taken.
Benefit gift boxes – as part of their Christmas offering, Benefit had combined some of their bestselling makeup in a giftbox, which I slipped in my bag, knowing I’d need nothing more than that. The giftbox I had (combining eye shadows, blush, lipgloss, mascara and pore refining putty) is no longer available, but check out their seasonal cofrets for the equivalent. Take a BB cream or tinted moisturiser instead of a foundation to stay dewy and not caked in makeup – I’d recommend La Roche Posay Hydreane BB Cream £10.
Eau Thermale Avène Water Spray £6.50 – a must-have for cooling and refreshing during labour, and helping you fight against the hospital’s drying air. I also love Balm Balm Rose Flower Water £11 – another dry-skin fighter for post-labour stays, it’ll also mask that clinical hospital smell without triggering your gag reflex.
Bionsen Sensitive Stick Deoderant £2.99 – I think it’s best to avoid deoderant for at least the first four weeks of your baby’s life. If you’re breastfeeding that little face will be thrust beneath your arm many times everyday, and I just feel it’s better met with a natural scent – the scent that’s key during the bonding process – rather than anything synthetic. The same goes for perfume – better avoided if you can bear to. But if you have to use a deoderant, try this aluminium-free stick, and certainly do NOT use an anti-perspirant which can block the pores beneath your arm. This is what I use now my baby is five months old, and is the only ‘natural'(ish) deoderant that worked through my rigorous testing.
See if your favourite cleansing regime is available as a travel set – it was a comfort for me to have that familiar scent and process. I went for Emma Hardie’s Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Anti Ageing Facial Starter Kit £32, so that meant my moisturiser and exfoliator were also sorted.
Simple Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover Pads £3.99 are a very handy addition to the bag. Disposable, small and leak-proof, they’re gentle on sensitive eyes. I am not a fan of facial wipes in general, but these don’t irritate and I think are totally acceptable for a brief time.
L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream Travel Size £8 – You’ll be constantly washing and applying alcohol-based sanitisers to your hands, so whack some of this on overnight. Remember you have it on before you let your baby suck on a finger. Burts Bees Honey Lip Balm £3.69 is also key to keep dry skin at bay.
Batiste Dry Shampoo On The Go 50ml £1.49 – think I’m crazy for worrying about my hair at such a time? The girl in the next room was straightening her hair minutes after being stitched up. And if you can’t wash immediately (for example, if you’ve had a C-Section), you’ll be glad of slightly refreshed hair.
If you CAN have a wash (I was in the shower about an hour after delivering), Weleda Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash is what I would have packed, on reflection. It is part of their baby range, so is suitably gentle, soft and moisturising – it won’t strip your skin or hair of the moisture you need most in a dry environment. The smell is both comforting and fresh – just what you need after labour. If you have a bath, I would avoid using soap or cleanser of any kind as you want to keep the ‘dangerzone’ perfume- and alcohol-free. The Mini Calendula Baby Starter Kit £12.95 has a whole host of travel size products, including this one – the rest of the cofret is perfect for your changing bag.
PBG Tip: If you have ever cheekily snuck the disposable slippers you were given at a spa into your handbag, dig them out. Or – as I did – find a pair on Amazon. You’ll want some slippers, but you’ll also most likely want to dispose of them as soon as you leave the hospital… Ditto a dressing gown.
PBG Tip: I’m not a fan of homeopathy as a rule, but in the days after giving birth, you’d give anything a go. I recommend Arnica tablets to reduce the swelling and bruising, whether you’ve delivered naturally or by C-Section. Another great healer is the aforementioned Feme Pads around £15. As I said before, buy a LOT of gauzes as you can get through up to 8-10 per day. You will need a freezer to keep these cool, so ring your midwife to see if such a facility is available for patients. If not, start using them as soon as you get home.