What to pack for hospital

Pregnant Woman Packing Suitcase For Trip To Hospital

As the exciting arrival of your baby starts to get ever closer, it’s important to start getting prepared for your stay at either John Hunter Hospital or Newcastle Private Hospital.

Most pregnant women begin to pack their hospital bag at around 33-36 weeks and keep it in their car or at the front door.

If you’re wondering what to pack, this is the only list you’ll need.

For Baby:

  • Baby clothes including hats, mittens, booties, socks, etc.
  • Swaddles/wraps (one for each day – they may not get dirty, but it’s always good to have a spare in case of leaks and spills.)
  • Baby blankets.
  • Car seats (this needs to be organised prior to discharge).
  • Bottles – if you’re planning on bottle-feeding, you may wish to bring your own bottles so that baby gets used to what you have.
  • Nappies and wipes are usually supplied, but if you choose to use cloth nappies and reusable wipes, please feel free to bring your own.

For You: 

  • Medicare card and private health insurance details.
  • Any medication you may be taking.
  • Your personal birth plan (if you have one) – remember to keep this short and be flexible as babies don’t always follow your plan.
  • An old nightdress or large shirt to wear during labour (something you don’t mind throwing away afterwards).
  • Your own toiletries – this includes body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, toothpaste and toothbrush, shaver and make-up. We recommend that deodorant is not used within the first 24 hours after birth so that your baby can get used to your unique smell.
  • Hair products – hairband, hair clips, brush, etc.
  • Clothes, front opening pyjamas (if you intend on breastfeeding) and dressing gown.
  • Slippers and non-slip socks.
  • Glasses or contact lenses, if you wear them.
  • Things to help you relax such as massage oil, music, oil burners, books/magazines.
  • Snacks to have during labour.
  • Nursing bras, breast pads and nipple cream. Even if you’re not planning on breastfeeding, it’s still best to avoid underwire bras as they can become uncomfortable and block your milk ducts.
  • Maternity pads (3-4 packs). Tampons should not be used as they can increase risk of infection after you’ve given birth.
  • Comfortable dark cotton underwear – please bear in mind that you will need to have full briefs to securely hold your maternity pads as G-strings are not suitable for this purpose. Two per day should be more than sufficient.
  • Phone and charger.
  • An outfit to go home in.

You may wish to have a smaller bag for the day of the labour and have additional supplies packed in a bag that your partner can bring after the birth, instead of trying to take a heavy bag with you while you’re in labour.

If You’re Having a Caesarean Section:

  • Comfortable underwear that won’t sit on your wound.
  • Loose pants or dresses that won’t irritate your wound.
  • Stool softeners to assist your first bowel movement.
  • Mouthwash to freshen up your mouth if you can’t get out of bed.

For Your Birth Partner:

  • Comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • A change of clothes.
  • Swimmers for assisting you in the shower.
  • Toiletries (toothpaste and toothbrush).
  • Copy of your birth plan.
  • Camera, phone, ipod – make sure it’s fully charged.
  • Snacks and drinks.
  • Cash and change for the canteen and parking.

How to beat the heat

Summer is here and whether you’re pregnant or have a newborn, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve for staying cool and feeling comfortable during the hotter months.

Keeping Your Baby Bump Cool:

Keep drinking that water!
Regardless of the weather, it is important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, but it’s especially vital during the hot summer months to drink the amount you’ll be sweating out. Dehydration can worsen pregnancy aches, swelling and even trigger contractions.
Since you’ll be constantly sipping away, we suggest making it a little more interesting by adding a slice of lemon, lime, orange or even a sprig of mint to your water.
You could even opt for a fruity mocktail which will not only keep you hydrated, but will boost your vitamin C at the same time.

  • Get wet
    Water is your new best friend and it’s not just for drinking. When you’re on the go and need to keep your cool carry around a water-filled spritz bottle and spray yourself whenever you need to. Alternatively, you could use a cool facecloth on the back of your neck.
    A dip in the pool will also most certainly do the trick! It’s a great way to cool you off, ease the stress of your squished organs, support the growth of your baby and get a low-impact workout all at once.
  • Put your feet up
    Believe it or not, those chores can wait, or your partner can do them. Oedema can be worse in summer causing your calves, ankles and feet to swell and become extremely uncomfortable. Elevate your legs whenever you can and for added relief, when your partner is around, get them to massage your feet for you.
    If the urge to do chores is still too overwhelming, ensure you do them early in the day or late in the evening and where possible blast that aircon!
  • Wear light clothing
    Remember to wear breathable, lightweight, comfortable maternity wear. This will prevent you from overheating and allow sweat to evaporate – helping you avoid rashes and chafing.
  • Road trips
    If you’re planning on hitting the road for your summer holiday, make sure you stop frequently (every hour or two) to stretch your legs and get the circulation flowing. (If flying – walk up and down the aisle and flex/extend your ankles while seated)
    Don’t forget to pack snacks, water and a pillow!
  • Be sun smart
    Pregnant women are more prone to sunburn and dark pigmentation, so slather on the sunscreen and avoid the afternoon sun.

Keeping Your Newborn Cool:

Hot weather can be dangerous for babies especially newborns, as they don’t have well developed thermostats, so they can easily overheat quickly. They need to drink regularly, wear light breathable clothing and keep cool.

  • Keep the nursery cool
    During the day, keep blinds or curtains closed. You can also use a fan to circulate the air in the room making sure the fan is not directly blowing on your baby. A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature in the room to ensure it’s a comfortable temperature for your baby to sleep.
  • Keep clothing and bedding to a minimum
    A nappy and singlet or summer weight sleeping bag is all your baby needs to go to sleep in. On very hot days, a cool bath before bedtime will also be beneficial.
  • Car trips
    If you need to travel by car, try to make the trip during the cooler part of the day (early morning), keeping the car cool with the air conditioner or opening the windows. Make sure that baby is kept shaded. And remember, NEVER leave your baby in the car alone!
  • Keep them well hydrated
    Like adults, babies need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated in hotter weather. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby may want to feed more than usual, there is no need to give them water. Bottle fed babies may be given cooled boiled water throughout the day on top of their usual formula feeds.
  • Protect them from the sun
    Newborns should be kept out of direct sunlight, they can overheat and develop a heat-related illness. If you need to go out in the sun, keep baby shaded using a wide brimmed hat, sunshade on your pram or a parasol. You can also get baby sunglasses to protect their sensitive eyes. Even though they’re shaded, it is also recommended to apply sunscreen to your baby’s skin – there are many brands that produce sunscreen specifically for babies.

What to look out for:

Prickly Heat
This is an itchy rash of small, raised red spots that babies are at risk of getting as their sweat glands are not fully developed. It commonly affects areas of the skin that stay moist such as in the nappy area or under the chin – try using zinc or barrier cream to protect the skin. Frequent clothing changes and tepid baths can also help prevent prickly heat.

Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40 degrees and parts of the body begin to stop working. Heatstroke can cause organ failure, brain damage and can even be fatal.

Symptoms include:

  • Temperature of 40 degrees or higher
  • Extreme sweating that suddenly stops (the body is unable to produce more sweat and is dehydrated)
  • Increased thirst, but as baby gets weaker they may drink less
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sunken fontanelle
  • Fewer wet nappies and/or dark coloured urine
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Headache and muscle cramps
  • Baby becomes floppy and/or sleepy
  • Confusion, shortness of breath and vomiting
  • Coma

If your baby is showing any of these signs, they need urgent treatment! Call an ambulance or take baby to the emergency room.
Keep baby as cool as possible, removing excess clothing, placing them on a damp facecloth and fanning them. If your baby is conscious, keep trying to give them cool water to drink.

If you have any questions about having a comfortable pregnancy during the summer months or looking after your newborn, please don’t hesitate to give Dr Ljiljana a call for advice.

Can I Eat That Christmas Ham?

Pregnancy is filled with many joys and tribulations, and one such challenge is knowing what you can and can’t eat over the festive season.

There are a few different kinds of bacteria that can live in your favourite Christmas treats, so we thought we’d compile a short list to help you avoid them and make your life easier.

Snacks and nibbles:

The NSW Food Authority advises pregnant women to approach any cheese and fruit platters with caution. Ensure that all fruit is thoroughly washed and if in doubt either avoid it altogether or wash it yourself.

Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, fetta and blue cheese can carry listeriosis bacteria and should be avoided. Instead opt for harder cheeses such as cheddar, halloumi, Swiss or tasty. You can also still enjoy the likes of cottage and cream cheese, bocconcini and mozzarella. A listeriosis infection can be very dangerous as it can affect your immune system and be passed on to your baby.

Nuts are an excellent source of nutrients such as omega -3 and -6 fatty acids and are considered safe for pregnant women, unless of course, you’re allergic or a health professional has told you not to eat them for any reason. So, feel free to snack away.


Whether you’re serving turkey, ham, or beef, home cooked meats are perfectly fine to eat on condition they are cooked through and eaten while hot. If you’re a fan of stuffing, it should be cooked separately from the poultry and eaten hot.

Avoid fish with high levels of mercury such as Flake (shark) or swordfish as it can harm a child’s developing nervous system. It’s also best to avoid shellfish including oysters, prawns and mussels as they can cause food poisoning, unless served piping hot.

It’s also advisable to avoid cold meats such as parma ham and salami as they can cause toxoplasmosis, which can adversely affect the development of your baby.

Leafy green salads are fine too if they have been washed properly and don’t contain any bean sprouts. Mind the dressings as you don’t want to be eating anything that contains raw eggs such as mayonnaise or aioli, which can cause salmonella poisoning. Coleslaw should also be avoided as it can contain listeria.

The NSW Food Authority also advises to avoid pre-packaged salads and fruit, salad bars, smorgasbords and delis.


As far as dessert goes, you can enjoy most of those guilty pleasures as long as the ice-cream or custard you pair it with is store bought and not home-made. And of course, avoid anything made with raw eggs, e.g. egg nog or home-made chocolate mousse.


The best thing about the festive feast is that it goes on for a few days in the form of leftovers. Just make sure that any leftovers are refrigerated and eaten within a day to avoid any unwanted food poisoning or nasty bacteria.

Remember the food safety rules of keep it cold, keep it clean, eat it hot and check the label and you’ll have a safe and healthy pregnancy where food is concerned.

Consult with Dr Ljiljana for more information about what not to eat during pregnancy.