What to pack in your hospital bag

You’ve set up your baby’s nursery, you’ve written your birth plan, and you’ve bought a car seat and installed it in your car. You’re pretty much set for the big day. All that’s left to do is to pack your hospital bag.

There’s a lot to think about and prepare ahead of your baby’s arrival, so it’s a good idea to get your hospital bag ready about three weeks before your due date.

It means there’s one less thing to worry about, and you can relax a little, knowing that you’re ready to go to hospital if your little one decides to make an entrance into the world ahead of schedule.

But what do you need for your hospital stay?

You want to be comfortable and feel at home to make things as relaxed and calm as possible. Think of it as an overnight stay, just without the bottle of Prosecco and sexy underwear!

Here’s out top 10 things to pack in your hospital bag…

  1. Medical notes and birth plan

It’s probably the most boring but most important thing you’ll need to pack in your hospital bag, but remember to take your medical notes and birth plan (if you have one) to give to the midwife when you arrive at the hospital.

  • Phone and charger

Although you’ll probably need these right up until it’s time to go to hospital, don’t forget to pack your phone and charger. You’ll no doubt want to take lots of photos of your new arrival once they’re here. Plus, you’ll probably want to contact your friends and family to let them know your news.

  • Toiletries

Pack a toiletries bag with the essentials like toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, face wipes, a flannel and moisturiser. It’s a good idea to opt for travel-size versions of your favourite toiletries, to save space and ensure your bag isn’t too heavy.

You might also want to pack a nice, moisturising lip balm, as it’s common for your lips to become dry and chapped during labour, especially if you use gas and air.

  • Hair ties and/or head band

The last thing you want is your hair getting in the way when you’re in the middle of labour and you’re trying to focus on your breathing. It can also get pretty hot and sweaty. So, pack a few hair ties or head bands to keep your hair out of your face.

  • Clothes for you and baby

You’ll probably spend most of your time in a nightie or pyjamas while you’re in hospital. And, if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s a good idea to opt for nightwear that opens at the front, like a shirt. This is also good for having skin-to-skin contact with your new baby.

Pack a pair of flip flops/and or slippers for wandering around the hospital and going to the toilet. Just make sure they’re easy to get on and off. Many women also experience cold feet during labour, so you might want to pack some warm socks to ensure your feet remain lovely and toasty throughout your stay in hospital.

Don’t forget to pack yourself a going home outfit too – keep it loose fitting and comfortable.

You’ll need some clothes for your baby too. Newborn size vests and sleepsuits are the best bet, but don’t forget a hat and scratch mittens too for when you get to take your new bundle of joy home. Nappies and water-based wipes are also a must-pack.

It’s also a good idea to have a plastic bag handy to keep any dirty clothing separate in your bag, in case your baby has a leaky nappy or you bleed through your clothes.

  • Maternity pads and a few pairs of knickers

If you have a vaginal birth, it’s normal to bleed a lot after delivery. Maternity pads are more absorbent than normal sanitary towels, so pack a good supply of these, as you may need to change them every couple of hours. The bleeding will start to decrease after a week or so, and you may then prefer to switch to normal pads. Pack a few pairs of big, dark-coloured, knickers too, that you don’t mind getting messy.

  • Nursing bras and breast pads

If you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll need a couple of good-fitting nursing bras. If you don’t plan on breastfeeding, go with your comfiest and most supportive bras. Remember, your breasts will be much larger than normal.

You’ll also need a supply of breast pads whether you plan on breastfeeding or not, as your breasts will still produce milk after birth.

  • A sterilised feeding bottle and ready-made formula

Even though you may be planning to breastfeed, it’s a good idea to pack a sterilised feeding bottle and a bottle of ready-made formula just in case, as it’s common to have some teething problems in the early stages of breastfeeding. Sometimes your milk might not come in straight away, or your baby may have trouble latching on. You don’t want your little one to go hungry, do you?

  • Things to pass the time

If you have a long labour, chances are there’ll be some down time, so pack a book or magazine and maybe some headphones or earphones to listen to some music on your phone to keep you occupied. Hospitals are pretty boring places when there’s not much going on, and there may be lots of waiting around.

  1. Snacks and drinks

You’ll need to keep your energy levels up during labour, as well as after the birth, to get you through those long, sleepless nights. Non-carbonated, isotonic sports drinks will keep you hydrated, while healthy snacks like bananas and cereal bars will keep you going. There’s no harm in packing a few of your favourite treats like chocolate and crisps too. After all, you deserve it!

Other things to remember

Don’t forget that your birthing partner will also need to pack a hospital bag with the following:

  • A change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Snacks and drinks
  • A travel pillow and blanket if they’re able to stay with you
  • Cash for parking and vending machine
  • A book/magazine

Once you’ve got your hospital bag packed – or most of it at least – leave it by the front door so it’s handy should you need to make a quick dash to the hospital.

And if you plan on using your car to get to the hospital, make sure your little one’s car seat is fitted properly, so you can bring them home safely. Also remember to keep your car topped up with fuel in the lead up to your due date (or keep it charged if you have an electric car). The last thing you want is to break down on the way to hospital.

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