How exciting! You are having a baby! There is so much to think about and plan. It can be very overwhelming. I’m going to make packing your hospital bag simple and easy. With over 20 years’ experience as a midwife and a mother to two kids, l think l may finally have it right.
So, you are getting along in your pregnancy, your preparing for the arrival of your precious baby and wondering what you will need to take to hospital. Well read on. I’m excited for you too! Packing your hospital bag makes it real! I’m going to help you make your list.
The hospital you will be birthing at will often tell you or give you written information during your pregnancy on what they supply and what you need to bring during your stay but it is usually basic.
Where do you start before you pack your hospital bag?
Firstly, choose a bag or suitcase that is practical. Zipped areas and extra pockets are helpful to organise what you take into sections. It’s best to do this earlier in your pregnancy rather than at the last minute.
Try and be practical about how much you pack. Try just packing the essentials as this will make your life easier. Find out during your pregnancy how long the average stay is for a normal and caesarean birth. This will give you an indication of how much to pack.
Remember someone can always bring you more clothes or other items if necessary but it is ideal to have enough with you. As we know, someone else finding your clothes for you, may not work out as well as you would like. When l had my first child, my husband brought me in his underwear instead of mine. I laughed and put it down to his sleep deprivation. Mind you, big comfortable undies are what you really do need.
Sometimes we do need extra items we did not think that we would need when we are in the hospital. It is a great idea to give your significant other a tour of your bedroom draws, wardrobe and your essentials items in the bathroom so they know where things are just in case.
Make sure you have your bag packed by the time you are 34 weeks pregnant. This way there won’t be any last minute rush because when it all begins, we tend to forget very important items. You don’t need the added stress of packing your bag when your labour starts!
Make sure your items for labour are easily accessible as you will use these first. You won’t unpack your bag in labour (if at all) so you don’t want to pull everything out to get to it.
If you are on any medication, make sure you take it with you in its original packaging. Also make sure that you have a good supply for when you get home.
Don’t forget your phone (with updated contacts), your charger, camera and video. Also, take your reading glasses if you wear them. If you wear contact lenses, make sure you take all that you need to care for them. You may also need some money handy. Your medicare card and if you have it, private health insurance details need to be with you in hospital. The hospital may also require a copy of your pregnancy care.
If you make a list and tick it off as you pack your hospital bag, you will not forget anything!
What to pack in your hospital bag for labour
- A comfortable t-shirt, nightie or whatever you will feel comfortable to wear for labour and birth. You will not have to worry about this if you have a planned caesarean.
- Your birth plan if you have one and give it to the midwife when you arrive at the hospital.
- Essential Oils: if you plan on using essential oils, discuss with your midwife or doctor prior to having your baby as they may have some already you can use or they can advise you on what to bring in.
- A tennis ball: this is a great help in labour for massage. You birthing partner can use this on your back during a contraction. For some women it works wonders, for others not so well so you will just have to see for yourself. You can also take any other kind of massager that you will feel will work for you (note – you cannot take a massage chair).
- The hospital will supply water but you can bring in some drinks that replaces electrolytes including sports drinks. They can be handy especially when you are in established labour but not essential.
- Snacks are great for a quick burst of energy. Take your favourite treats and muesli bars to keep you going. You are not going to feel like a meal during labour but will find snacking will help you.
- Music: this was my favorite in labour. I especially made my own labour list and it helped me concentrate and relax as much as possible during labour. Some hospitals will have the means for this, if not take your own and a small speaker.
- Lips & hair: your lips can get very dry so lip balm can be a life saver. A hair tie is essential if you want to keep your hair off your face.
What to pack in your hospital bag for your post-natal stay
- Your clothes: comfortable loose casual wear and some comfortable pyjamas. Just remember if you are breastfeeding you will need easy access to your breasts! Don’t forget your maternity bras as you will definitely need them. and you may need breast pads once your ‘milk comes in’. Hospitals will usually supply some nipple cream if your nipples become tender in the first few days.
- Baby clothes: the hospital will provide baby blankets and sometimes some basic clothes. Take your own as well as they may only provide white gowns. Nice big wraps are handy too as they usually settle well if they feel as snug as they did in the womb. You will need at least three sets of clothes for baby per day. Also take into account that the temperature at the hospital will be set or you will have a heater or cooler in your room, so you and the baby should feel comfortable. In saying that, packing a few hats for your baby in your hospital bag will be helpful as they can get colder more easily in the first 24 hours after birth and the biggest surface area to lose heat from is their head.
- Baby products: some hospitals supply nappies but you will need to ask. Often you have to supply your own wipes. The hospital will supply anything else that you may need. Babies do not need soap or shampoo in the early days.
- If you decide to formula feed you will need to bring your own bottles, teats and formula.
- Toiletries: This includes shampoo and conditioner. Often they have liquid soap in the bathroom but if you prefer your own then take it with you. Pack any facial products and hair essentials that you need.
- Sanitary pads: One pack of maternity pads and then at least three more packs of super to normal pads.
- Bring your own pillow if you are really attached to it. Something you love from home can make you feel more comfortable.
- A magazine, book or iPod can help you relax during your stay (if you have time). If you are in a room with other mothers you may want to bring your headphones.
- A notepad for anything you might like to write down: you only have a limited amount of time in hospital and you will have many questions. Write them down and when you see your midwife you can talk to her about them. It’s easy to forget due to sleep deprivation and l hate to say it but the forgetfulness never goes away (pregnancy does make women smarter though).
Well this is my list from mother and midwife to you. I wish you well on your labour, birth and parenting journey and l hope you find this list makes your life just that bit easier. Don’t worry if you do forget anything, there will always be someone there to help you.
Goodluck! Below is some more helpful information.