During my first pregnancy, I was a research junkie. I wanted to know every and anything about pregnancy and childcare. Mostly because I was tired of getting unsolicited advice and wanted to know which to take and which to ignore. Thank God for Dr Google, I never ran out of things to read, from what to expect to Baby Centre. I subscribed to them all and downloaded several pregnancy apps on my phone. However, I couldn’t relate to a lot of information as it was written and tailored towards people in the abroad). As much as I had read about getting prepared for labour and motherhood, I found myself totally unprepared when the time came. In this light, here are a few tips to help a typical Nigerian mum prepare for maternity leave.
- HOSPITAL BAG: Once you are 8 months pregnant, pack your hospital bag and keep in a strategic place (easy for your husband to find) if you are giving birth in a private hospital in Nigeria, your bag should include the following;
a big tub of cotton wool,
sanitary pads (4) those big old school ones our mothers used back then, if you bring the modern flat ones, the nurses will bounce you.
Disposable pants (12)
Front opening night wears
Nursing bras or bras without iron for easy lift
Toiletries (soap, sponge, toothbrush & paste, deodorant, etc)
Detergent (you’ll be bleeding a lot so any blood-stained clothes might need to be washed immediately)
Comfortable clothes that aid breastfeeding: loose tops and shorts or loose dresses with buttons or sips in front.
Long sleeve Sleep suits (onesies that cover the feet), in the first few days, the baby needs to be kept warm. From your last scan between 28 to 32 weeks, check the estimated weight of your baby, if baby is above 4kg, you will need to get bigger clothes like ‘3-6 months’ but if baby is smaller like 2.5kg you should buy more of ‘new born’ sizes. 0-3-month sizes fit better for babies about 3 to 3.5kg.
Caps and mittons
Baby soap, wash cloth
Receiving blanket or shawl
Baby bed sheet
- Make your hair about 2 weeks before your edd (expected delivery date) preferably braids or Ghana weaving, something that requires little maintenance but will last really long. You don’t want to be looking scruffy in your new mum pictures and you won’t have time for a hairdo in the first few weeks after delivery.
- Stock up on food items: even if NEPA isn’t cooperating, buy all your dry ingredients in bulk. You can cook lots of meat, chicken or fish and then roast or fry them very dry. Also get your blended tomato pepper mix which is a staple for most Nigerian meals, boil it dry and cover with groundnut oil. I hear it can keep for weeks.
- Get lots of comfortable tee shirts and shorts or front opening dresses. You will likely be breastfeeding every other hour in the first few weeks, so you need clothes that will support it. You will also be receiving lots of guests so you need to look presentable.
- Make adequate inquiries about the hospital you intend to deliver in. if possible, inspect the wards, to know what you might need to make it more comfortable for your stay such as extra pillows, standing fan. Find out the cost implication of an emergency Cesarean Section (CS) and other pediatric services. If you are making use of a Health Management Organisation (HMO) find out exactly what your plan covers, confirm if they cover CS, circumcisions and immunizations, if they do, they should communicate this to your hospital. Print out an additional dependents form, some HMOs require you to register your baby before they can access immunizations or specialized care.
- Find out where the nearest primary health care Centre to your residence is. Your baby may need to take immunizations there so make enquiries about their schedule, what days they give immunizations and from what time.
- If you intend to host a naming ceremony party, make the plans. Sort out the caterer and if possible purchase drinks. Sort out your outfit, don’t expect your tummy to have returned to its pre-pregnant form in just 1 week. Pre-book a makeup artist if you will need one.
- If your employer requires one, print out your leave application form and keep in your hospital bag. That way you can easily fill it out and have a colleague submit it for you.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Experienced mothers in the house please share your 2 cents in the comment section.