What to pack in your hospital bag?
Most of you will have excitedly packed your bags, ready to jet off on holiday and have probably not given it too much thought. Suncream, bikini, toilet bag, beach towel. Job done!
Packing your bag ready for having your baby… where do you start with that one! There isn’t really a right or wrong time to get all your bits and bobs together, however, if you have reached 30 weeks and haven’t started to think about it, now may be a good time to start thinking about it!
For those of you planning a home birth, it is still worth packing a hospital bag. Not only so that you don’t have to worry if you do need to go into hospital for any reason, but it is a good idea to have all the things you may need or want during labour in one place.
The first thing to remember is that your labour room is not likely to be much larger than a small living room. Space will be limited so make sure you don’t over pack. Any time you are packing more than two cabin cases, you are probably over packing! It is also worth asking your midwife if there is any equipment that you don’t need to take in because it is provided by the hospital. i.e birthing ball, defusers, electric candles.
There are a couple of ways of organising your bags. You may want to have one that has all the things you and your birth partner may use and another with all of baby’s things in. Or you could pack one bag for use during your time on labour ward and the other for when you are on the postnatal ward. You don’t need to take your car seat into the hospital until it is time to take your baby home.
We have broken the packing of your hospital bag down into three lists:
- Things you need for yourself, during labour
- Things you need for you and baby afterwards
- Things you need for your birth partner
1. What to pack for Labour?
- Hospital Notes - if your notes are not held electronically make sure you take them in with you
- Two night dresses or oversized shirts - you want to be comfortable during labour
- Dressing gown - if you want to take a dressing gown I would recommend taking a lightweight one.
- Socks - take a few pairs. Once your waters break you may need to change them a few times.
- Slippers or flip-flops - footwear that is easy to take on and off
- Track suit or comfortable clothes - you may want to walk around the grounds so something other than a nighty may come in useful.
- Essential oils - Lavender, Clary Sage, Peppermint
- Snacks and drinks - avoid fizzy drinks. You will be provided food by the hospital but your birth partner won’t be given anything.
- Birthing ball - most hospitals have them but check just in case.
- Entertainment - iPad, books, games, music, films
- Lip balm - your lips can become quite dry when using the gas and air, so lip balm is really handy.
- TENS Machine - TENS machines are really good as they prompt your body to release its own natural pain killers. Enjoy a great discount here with Baby Care Tens.
- Hair bobbles and clips - you don’t want your hair getting on your nerves so make sure you have these handy.
- Pillow & towel - both are usually in quite short supply in the hospital so you may want to take a spare pillow and a big towel.
- Drinking straws - staying hydrated is really important as a full bladder can block your baby’s path to your arms. Drinking straws will make it easier for your partner to help you to take frequent sips of water.
- Note pad and pen - it is lovely to jot down key memories of your labour and arrival of baby so that you will be able to look back on the event and also show your little one when they are a bit older.
- BAG HACK - Get a zip-lock bag and put in it: a baby grow, nappy, hat and vest. If you go for a caesarean your midwife will ask your partner to gather these things. This little bag will save them a lot of stress.
2. Packing for you and your baby after labour:
Packing for you
- Going home outfit - make sure this is super comfortable and practical if breastfeeding.
- Notes from your breastfeeding class - these may be very helpful to refer back to.
- Breast pads
- Nipple cream & Nursing bras
- Maternity pads
- Ready to feed formula - if you are formula feeding baby, you will need to take this in
- Travel sized toiletries
- Comfortable underwear - I am not a big fan of disposable underwear. I think this is one time in your life you can treat yourself to some big, comfy knickers!
- Night shirt or PJs
- Used water bottle - Your first wee after having a baby can sting a little. Pouring warm water to the area whilst weeing can help to soothe the sting. However, you don’t need to spend lots of money on fancy bottles. Just buy a bottle of water with a squeezy top and keep it.
Packing for your baby
- Baby Grow / Sleep suits - 5/6 of newborn size- it is really tempting to take in all the beautiful outfits you have bought for baby. I would keep those safe at home. There is lots of bodily fluid floating around during labour and birth and you don’t want things to get ruined.
- Vests 5/6 of newborn size
- Nappies - 2 dozen newborn size nappies should be more than enough
- Harvested Colostrum - unless you live hours away from the hospital I would leave this at home. It is generally stored in a small fridge that everyone gets access to and I have often seen syringes of hard earned colostrum knocked to the floor. Keep it at home and send your partner for it if needed.
- Wipes - it is totally up to you how you clean your baby’s bottom. I would start with a basic un-perfumed water wipe. Cotton wool and your baby’s first poo is not a nice mix!
- Scratch mits - many baby grow have double cuffs that you can fold over but if not scratch mits can help to protect your baby’s face from their sharp nails.
- Hat - babies struggle to regulate their body temperature in the first few hours so, anytime baby is not skin to skin with you a hat is recommended.
- Muslins - these handy squares will become part of your daily wardrobe as they mop up baby sick and any spilled milk.
- Blanket - the hospital will provide you with one for use whilst in hospital but you may need one for the journey home
- Snowsuit - you may want to put your baby in their snow suit whilst you take them to the car. REMEMBER you should take the snowsuit off for the journey as they are not safe for use in car seats.
3. Packing for your birth partner
- A change of clothes - you don’t know how long you will be at the hospital so best to take a change of clothes in case your partner wants to freshen up.
- Toilet bag - just as you would if you went away
- Swimming shorts - not all hospitals allow partners to get into the birthing pool but if you are hoping that your partner will dive in with you, these are a must!
- Camera - you may be happy with the one on your phone but if not, pack your camera.
- Snacks & drinks - it is unlikely that they will be offered food by the hospital so make sure you pack plenty of things for them to nibble on.
- Phone charger - running out of charge is not ideal so don’t forget this essential.
- Change for the car park - not all car parks accept cards so make sure you do have some loose change. Your hospital may also subsidise your parking so ask when you arrive at the unit.
- Note book and pen - you may want to jot down any memorable events or giggles you have along the way. Writing a little time-line of events may also help your partner once baby is here.
So, that’s it. You are all set! No passport needed but this will be an outing you will never forget!