You’re nearing your due date and everyone keeps asking if you have your bag packed – the traditional “hospital bag” reminds me of the bag that Mary Poppins had where she kept pulling an endless supply of things out – it seemed to contain everything bar the kitchen sink!
However life is not quite as magical as Mary Poppins & you or your other half will have to carry this hospital bag, not to mention the Midwife when she’s trying to push you in a wheelchair to the ward whilst juggling your medical notes too! So it’s better to pack light just for a brief stay and if you end up staying longer then family and friends can bring you extra bits as you need them.
Also, I know as a woman we don’t normally go anywhere without our handbag full of tricks but resist! You’re not only creating another bag to carry but the hospital can’t promise security of your purse and personal processions so it’s best to not take them.
There are so many hospital bag lists on the internet which all have different suggestions on them –how on earth can you decide what to take? The first consideration is to find out what your local hospital/birth centre provides and this varies widely.
Things to check with your local Midwife:
- Birthing Ball
- What facilities are there to play music?
- Artificial milk & bottles if you are planning to formula feed baby
- Blanket/sheets for baby
- Nappies & cotton wool for cleaning baby
- Sanitary towels
- Bath towel for you
Also, think about what you are like as a person & what your own comfort needs are; avoid just following the list and tweak it to suit your own personal needs.
There is so much to think about with a hospital bag list and if this is your first baby it’s hard to know what you will and won’t need. It’s also worth considering that just because your friend didn’t find a use for an item doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t want to take it in your hospital bag; after all, we’re all different and no two labours are the same either.
Finally, I think it helps to segment the list out into three parts to help you decide what to take in your hospital bag. I’m not suggesting three separate bags here – remember my first point about travelling light! If you have the one bag with different compartments or pockets it makes it easy to separate out baby’s items and your postnatal things so they are easy to find (it’s often the Midwife or your partner that have to rummage through your bags to find everything!)
Three key areas for your hospital bag
- What you need for labour
- What you need for yourself after you have given birth
- What you need for baby
Let’s take each area in turn:
What to pack on your hospital bag for labour
- Birth plan/preferences & don’t forget your handheld pregnancy notes.
- Whatever you plan to wear in labour – thin nightie/large t-shirt
- Bed socks to keep your feet warm
- Slippers – ones that are easy to slip on
- Hair accessories to help keep it out of the way & keep you cooler
- Lip balm – all that breathing, especially on gas & air, gives you dry lips
- Something to wear in the pool (if you prefer not to be totally naked)
- Cooling spray & flannel to keep you cool and refreshed. (Check out our 'Cool It Mama')
- Massage oil – massage in labour is known to reduce pain & anxiety. (Our 'Relax & Breathe is ideal)
- Phone charger – you know you’ll forget this unless it’s mentioned!
- Energy boosting snacks & drinks for both of you
- Music - relaxing - you’ve seen those dancing women in labour right?!
- Drinking straw – makes it easier to drink in labour
What to pack in your hospital bag for after labour
- Plastic bag for any dirty/wet clothing (unless you just want to ditch it!)
- Small bath towel for you to shower after labour
- Overnight toiletries – body wash, face wash, toothpaste & brush etc
- 1 pack of Maternity pads – (the soft thick ones are best)
- Few pairs of big Bridget Jones style knickers (buy a cheap pack of 3) (helps to hold your pad in place & covers over your wound if you have a c-section) – avoid paper pants they’re just not comfy at all!
- Nursing bra or comfortable non-wired supportive bra
- Thin nightwear with easy access if breastfeeding – bear in mind you may have to walk to the bathroom in view of other women’s visitors so you might like to throw in a thin dressing gown.
- Earplugs & sleep mask – hospital wards can be noisy and bright! 9. Something to soothe the aftermath of labour – try either our “Pure Bliss” or “Bottoms up”
What to pack in your hospital bag for baby
- Baby’s first set of clothes – put this into a separate easy to grab bag within your hospital bag – this should be 1 nappy, 1 x vest and 1 x babygrow – makes it easy for the Midwife or your partner to find.
- Nappies x 12
- Cotton wool balls or pads to clean baby’s bottom at nappy changes – baby wipes are too harsh for newborns.
- 3 x vests (no legs & short sleeves – poppers between the legs)
- 3 xbabygrows (long legs & long sleeves – poppers down the front – turnover cuffs are better than scratch mitts)
- 2 x muslin - useful as a bib or to mop up dribbles
- 1 x thin small newborn sized hat (just in case baby gets cold)
Keep the following in the car so when you are ready to go home your partner can bring them in as he comes to fetch you. This saves you cluttering yourselves up with extra bits until you actually need them plus there is so little room around your bed area in hospitals a car seat would get in the way!
What you need when you are ready to go home after giving birth
- Car seat
- Cardigan/jacket & hat for baby
- Blanket to cover baby once they are in the car seat
- Loose/comfortable outfit for you to wear
- Card & present for the staff – if you are that way inclined!
I hope that has given you some idea as to what to pack into your hospital bag, feel free to leave any other suggestions in the comments below.
Babies can make an appearance anywhere from 37 weeks and some decide to make an earlier appearance so it’s definitely worth getting your hospital bag packed by 36 weeks and earlier if you are expecting twins.
Thanks for reading
Jane – The Midwife x
For more blogs on pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum please visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.com/blogs/news
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.