Packing your hospital bag means you’re reaching the final stages of pregnancy and you’re about to meet your baby. By any stretch of the imagination, this is an equally exciting and nerve-wracking time. However, one thing that can help is being organised for your hospital stay, which means that packing your hospital bag in the right way is vital. It can be hard to remember everything you might need during your stay – but making sure you have everything you could need for labour, your newborn when they are here and your own post-birth recovery items are essential. It is hard to know how long you’ll be in the hospital for, but packing for all eventualities can help to take the pressure off. Here’s our guide on packing your hospital bag to help you put together everything you need.
When Is The Right Time to Pack My Hospital Bag?
Although the date of your labour can often be accurately predicted, this isn’t always the case. The best advice is to make sure that your bag is packed and ready to go at least 2 weeks before you give birth if possible. That said, packing earlier than this can really help to take the pressure off. Choose somewhere safe to leave your bag and make sure that your birth partner knows where it is stored and that they know they must take it with you when you head to the hospital.
What Do I Need to Pack for Labour?
Although your bag can be packed with a range of items, the main aim of it is to ensure that you have everything you need for labour and giving birth. If you have any maternity notes or a birthing plan then popping this into your hospital bag is a really good idea. When packing your hospital bag for labour it is a good idea to include:
Comfortable Clothes – Whilst giving birth is definitely not one of the most comfortable experiences, there are definitely things you can do to make it a little easier. Ensuring that you have comfortable, loose-fitting outfits can really help. When packing clothes you want to make sure that you pack items that are baggy, breathable and easy to move around in. Considering clothes that you can walk about in, but also easily lie down in when the time comes. Although the style of your clothing isn’t important, darker colours are great for avoiding stains. You could even pack old clothes that you don’t mind throwing away afterwards. Your birth plan will affect what you might want to pack too – for example you’ll want comfortable swimwear if you’re planning for a water birth. Much like your other clothes it should be something that isn’t hard to remove and something that you don’t mind potentially getting stained.
Items to Help You Relax – Being as relaxed and comfortable as possible is essential so putting in a book that you really like or some magazines that you enjoy is a great idea. Your phone charger should also be considered an essential item. A fan and/or a water spray bottle and lip balm can help with feeling relaxed and comfortable throughout the whole process too. Lots of people prefer to take their own pillow or even a pregnancy pillow with them.
Snacks and Drink – Not all hospitals have catering or shops so having some food on hand to help with your energy levels is a great idea. Some bottles of water as well as things like protein bars, popcorn and other carb-rich snacks are a good idea. Most women giving birth prefer smaller snacks rather than larger ones, as giving birth can leave them feeling nauseous.
Personal Hygiene – It is hard to say how long you’ll be in the hospital for, so having some items with you to help you freshen up between labour stages is a good idea. You can even buy travel-size items to ensure that they don’t take up too much space in your bag. Items that you should pack include:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shower gel and/or soap
- Face wash
- Wet wipes
- Dry shampoo
What Will I Need After I Give Birth?
Once the hard part of giving birth is over, you’ll want to do what you can to freshen up and get comfortable because you’ll be ready for a much-needed rest. Stick to your loose comfortable clothes and avoid those with a tight waistband, especially if you have had a C-section. If you’re planning on breastfeeding then front-opening tops can help to make life much easier. Without a doubt, some comfortable underwear is a must. You’ll likely be wearing maternity pads for a few days after you have given birth so ensure that knickers are nice and roomy (you might want to buy a size up from your normal size). A maternity bra is a great idea because even if you’re not planning to breastfeed your boobs are likely to feel sore. Make sure that you take plenty of maternity pads with you because you’ll most certainly want to wear these for at least a few days after you have given birth. Things like breast pads and nipple cream are a great idea if you are planning to try breastfeeding, otherwise taking formula and sterilised bottles with you is a good idea.
You’ll be really grateful for the toiletries you packed for feeling fresher, things like comfortable slippers, an eye mask and earplugs can be really good for helping you feel great and get a decent night’s sleep.
Being Prepared for a C-Section
If you’re packing your hospital bag for a C-section the most important thing is not to overthink things. Actually, your hospital bag list will be pretty much the same. In fact, if you are having a planned C-section then you can leave out any labour-easing tools as you won’t need these. It can be worth packing some extra underwear and an extra outfit because you could find that you are required to stay in the hospital for an extra few days. Movement will be uncomfortable post-birth, so extra items so that you can feel fresh without the need to shower are essential.
Birthing Essentials – Speak to your midwife about what facilities the hospital offers, so that you can work out in advance what you might want to take with you. For example, you might want a birthing ball, a TENS machine (don’t forget the batteries) or some aromatherapy oils. This will all depend on your birthing plan, so make sure you consider this in advance and get hold of what you need before the big day.
Packing For Your Baby
When your baby is born there are a few essential items that they’ll need. Items to include on your hospital packing list include:
Sleep suits – You’ll need plenty of vests and sleep suits – try to have at least a couple for each day that you expect to be staying in the hospital.
Some hats – Your baby will need a hat as soon as they are here, so having a couple in your bag is a great idea.
Scratch mittens - If the sleep suits you pack don’t have built-in scratch mittens then packing a pair of these is a great idea.
Socks – No one wants cold feet and your newborn baby is no exception, so a couple of pairs of socks for times when they’re wearing something without these built-in is a must.
Nappies – Did you know that newborn babies often go through up to 12 nappies a day? Take a full pack with you in newborn size.
Cotton wool – Baby wipes often aren’t quite right for your baby’s sensitive skin, so some cotton wool that you can use with warm water to wash your baby should be packed.
A blanket – Your baby will want to feel comfortable, cosy and warm so a soft blanket is something that you’ll want to have on hand.
Muslins – Muslins are something that you can pretty much never have enough of. They get soiled quite quickly so having a handful of these in your hospital bag is something you’ll be pretty grateful for.
Something to come home in – Taking your baby home is an exciting time, but it is likely their first time outside so something warm and comfortable to take them home in is a must.
Car Seat – If you are taking your baby home in your own car then a properly fitted car seat is a must. In fact, sometimes hospitals won’t allow you to take baby home with you without one. Here at Mamas & Papas, we understand the importance of this and as such offer free car seat consultations. We can check that the car seat is fitted correctly to your car and give you tips to ensure that you can fit it properly yourself next time too. It’s a really good idea to get this done in advance of giving birth so that it’s ready to go when you are. Not only that, but once it is fitted correctly to your car you’ll be able to take some time to practise taking it out of the car and refitting it again. It can seem tough at first, but it’s most definitely a case of practice makes perfect. When considering what you are going to want to wear, keep in mind that you might be required to wear things like compression socks – so considering what you’re going to be able to wear over these is a must.
When it comes to packing your hospital bag the most important thing is not to panic. Hospitals are often happy to help with forgotten items or to point you in the direction of where your birthing partner can head to pick them up. However, we understand the peace of mind that comes with being organised and having this part all figured out, so we hope this guide helps a little. Check our website for inspiration on what you might need and please remember that our friendly team are always on hand to ask questions you might have, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.