Packing your Hospital Bag – the complete checklist
You’re in the most exciting stage of pregnancy, the birth is approaching and it’s time to think about packing your hospital bag! It’s always worth having your bag ready by 35 weeks, you’ll then be relaxed and ready to go should your baby decide to make a slightly early appearance! But what should you take with you? Every hospital has their own policy about what you can take into the hospital, so you might want to ask your midwife for her advice. You might want to take your own pillows from home as hospital tend to be very short on these. It’s worthwhile having 3 separate bags, one for labour, a postnatal bag and a bag for your partner during labour, if you’re driving to the hospital you can keep your postnatal bag in the boot of the car and switch with the labour bag once you go to the postnatal ward. Below are suggestions for what to take with you, based on my experience as midwife.
The complete hospital bag checklist
- Your birth plan and pregnancy notes
- An old nightshirt or t-shirt you can wear during labour. It’s likely to get messy, so don’t buy anything too expensive.
- Dressing gown, this will come in very hand during early labour if you take a walk along the hospital corridor, you can use the same one or have a separate one for the postnatal ward. Hospitals tend to be on the warmer side, so choose a lightweight one. A darker colour will also help to hide any stains.
- Slippers that you can easily put on and take off, flip-flops would also work well.
- Socks, many women complain of cold feet during labour.
- Massage oil so your birth partner can massage your back during labour. A massage roller or other massaging aid would also be useful.
- Birthing ball, you labour ward will likely have these but sometimes they can be in short supply or not the right size for you. A birthing ball can help you get into many different positions during labour. Remember to take the pump with you too!
- Snacks for both during and after labour. Most women can eat during labour and it can also help to keep your energy levels up. There will likely be food and drinks available in the hospital, but you might prefer to take your own items. Select carb type snacks which will give you a slow-release of energy, this will keep you going for longer. Fruit, crisps, cereal bars and popcorn all work great. You might also want to take some mints or chewy sweets to freshen up your mouth. Isotonic sports drink and glucose tablets can also help to keep your energy levels high.
- Books & Magazines, these will help you to relax and pass the time. You might also want to take your iPad with you. You can also download music and apps for use during labour.
- Lip calm, many women complain of dry lips during labour, especially is using gas and air.
- Hairbands to help tie your hair up during labour.
- Facecloth, your birth partner can soak this in cold water to lay over your forehead should you feel warm during labour. A handheld fan also works well for this.
- TENS Machine, if you’re planning on using one. You can either buy your own or hire one from multiple places such as Mothercare and Boots.
- Water spray which can then be refilled and used to cool you down during labour.
Hosital bag checklist for Partner
- Comfy shoes as your partner might be pacing the hospital corridors for some time!
- Clothes, a change of clothes as you never know how long you’re going to be at the hospital!
- Straws to help you with drinking during labour.
- Swimwear in case your partner wants to jump in the birth pool or shower with you.
- Mobile and charger to ring relatives and take picture of your new arrival.
- Camera, if your partner is a photography pro, they might want to take a camera along with them.
- Snacks and drinks for your partner during labour so they can stay with you rather than leaving the room to go find food!
- Spare change for the car park and vending machines.
- Books and magazines to keep your birth partner entertained.
What to pack for after birth – the Postnatal Bag
- A comfortable outfit for going home from the hospital.
- Literature and information on infant feeding from any classes you have taken or collected.
- Feeding bras, bring along 2-3 if you intend on breastfeeding.
- Breast pads, you’ll still need them even if you don’t decide to breastfeed as your breasts will still start to make milk after birth.
- Maternity pads, bring along 2-3 packs.
- Nightshirt or pyjamas, front opening ones are ideal if you plan on breastfeeding.
- Toiletries, bring along travel size items and treat yourself to a few luxury items as a special post-birth treat. Include all your regular toiletries including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant. Face wipes are also great and have multiple uses. Don’t forget your hairbrush too!
- Comfy underwear, don’t take along your best ones as they’ll likely get messy. Big cotton pants are ideal!
- Arnica cream can really help to reduce bruising down below and kickstart the healing process
- Eye mask and earplugs to help you sleep on the noisy postnatal ward.
- Cotton wool to help with nappy changes. You new baby’s skin is very sensitive and delicate to its best to use water and cotton wool when cleaning.
- Formula and bottles, most hospitals now require you to take your own with you.
- Milkymeter, to make heating your bottles of formula quick and easy using the microwave in the patient kitchen.
- Take a long 3-4 sleepsuits and vests for changing little one.
- Baby blanket to keep baby cozy as it may be chilly when you leave the hospital.
- Nappies, baby’s usually go through around 12 each day.
- Muslins or bibs to help mopping up any milk and keep clothes clean when feeding.
- Two pairs of socks or booties to keep those little tootsies warm.
- 2 hats, one for immediately after birth and a spare.
- Going home outfit, an all in one sleepsuit with a vest is best.
- Jacket or pramsuit, especially important for autumn and winter babies.
- Car seat, some hospitals won’t let you leave until they have seen you have a car seat. Practice using it and putting it in the car before your baby arrives to your not feeling stressed on the day you take your baby home.
If you are getting close to the end of pregnancy, you may want to read the following blog posts:
If you have questions about feeding your newborn baby, you are welcome to write me an e-mail