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Dunni O: Diary of a First-Time Mum! The JJC Guide to Preparing for Maternity Leave



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;

For the Mother


methylated spirit

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

Breast pads

Breastfeeding pillow

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.

For baby

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

Things to Do

  1. Get your hair done 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Make adequate enquiries 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 immunisations. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Photo Credit: Photowitch | Dreamstime


  1. Chu

    August 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Nice one Dunni, if it is a General Hospital you will need much more, everything is purchased by you including the syringe for tests, so prepare your mind.

    • Bobosteke

      August 28, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      My dear you buy everything, even the air you breathe.

  2. eby

    August 28, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Weldone for the write up Dunni. All the points you gave are spot on. I gave birth a week to my EDD and I was grateful for the fact that I had my hospital bag packed, my hair made and food items in stock at home some days to the “unexpected day” because the time duration from the delivery to 3 weeks after was a blur. I will also add that it is important to have your private part shaved often (probably weekly) you don’t want to have your baby’s head coming out of a “bush” in the advent of an unexpected labour and it can be embarrassing as well.

  3. Aderonke Onipede

    August 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks Dunni. Very apt.

    Though they say pregnancies and babies are different but learning is key.
    I read alot during my first pregnancy, Just like you, Google was my anytime friend, experienced friends were handy too while personal instinct/feeling was my best pal!

    As much as the experience is amazing, I made errors even with all the research and learning but became a guru in my second experience and it can only get better learning more from others.

    First time mums, don’t panic when baby doesn’t come even after EDD just keep the exercise on and rest well because you will need all the energy. And remember to have your phone nearby. And your favorite scripture saved on your phone!

  4. Dr.N

    August 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Nice write up
    1 tip for new moms
    Get help!!!
    Someone who will be in your corner and will be devoted to taking care of you while you care for the baby
    It is taxing trying to be superwoman who does everything when baby is added to the list
    You mom, sister or a Nanny may suffice but you need to plan for the period after mom leaves.
    If you don’t want a Nanny, work around it

  5. Hawtchic

    August 28, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Thumbs up for this great post. Also if you’ve got a toddler, line up proper care and arrangements for feeding, bathing, school pick up and drop off and so on. 2) have a list a important chores that need to be done in your absence that you usually take care of. 3) get lots of laundry soap, you’re gonna need it for baby’s lovely little outfits. Oh and diapers that actually fit for all that meconium (the initial black poop). Then get ready for the overwhelming love you never thought you could ever feel for the cute little human that came out of your body.

  6. Ms B

    August 28, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks Dunni! Article in season cos I’m due any day now. Have packed hospital bag but haven’t made my hair sha. In a couple of days though ??

  7. MA

    August 29, 2017 at 10:32 am

    This is very helpful. Been wondering what n what to pack in my hospital bag, although I’m not due yet. Gracias

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