With all the latest and greatest items on the market, mums tend to be left feeling confused about what items are actually essential when it comes to packing their hospital birth bag. Some mums may need to stay a day, whilst others a little longer.
Everyone wants to be prepared for the most exciting hospital stay, so here is a guide on what you may need to pack in your birth bag.
What should you pack in your hospital birth bag – and when should you prepare it?
It’s advisable to keep bags ready and packed by 37 weeks.
Bags may be categorised into a ‘mum’ bag, and a ‘baby’ bag. Some hospitals allow the birth partner to stay over too, so they could have their bag packed too.
What to pack in Mum’s bag:
- Pack 3 sets of comfortable and loose pyjamas. A button-down top is preferred for ease of access to breastfeed babies. If a mum is having a caesarean section, long button-down sleepwear is preferred. This eliminates the elastic on the pants pressing on the caesarean wound.
- For labour, you might light to use a loose T-shirt or another comfortable clothing item to use when walking around the room.
- Include all the toiletries that you would generally use when travelling – soaps, antiperspirant, body lotion, lip balm, hair ties, hair dryer, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste etc.
- Plus, for after the baby’s birth, you are likely to need breast pads, large pads or adult diapers, disposable underwear and nipple ointment to apply after breastfeeding,
Comfort and pain relief items
- It’s always handy to keep extra towels for you and baby. A face towel is handy to wipe your face down with cold water in active labour.
- An inflatable bath/neck support cushion is useful if you will be using the bath for a water birth.
- A heat pack or bean bag for pain relief in labour and your favourite massage essential oils that can be used during labour. Speak to your care provider or aromatherapist about essential oils such as clary sage, lavender and mandarin for use in labour.
- Dim lighting helps with the release of oxytocin and scented candles are a fantastic way of helping with this. Most hospitals will only let you use LED candles.
- Coarse salt to add to water for soaks after a normal vaginal birth. Coarse salt can be added to a peri bottle or a normal bottle of warm water and used to rinse each time after passing urine or stool.
Food and snacks
Don’t forget to pack your snack bag!
Include beverages of your choice, cold water, sweets, gum and light snacks. Add snacks that you and your partner will enjoy.
What to pack in the baby’s bag:
Babies are generally not bathed for the first 3 days. This allows the vernix to absorb and microbiomes on their skin to assist in the baby’s immune system development.
Toiletries that you might need for the baby include:
- wet wipes
- cotton wool pads or balls
- nappy cream
- pack of small baby diapers (nappies) for nappy changes.
- 3 sets of baby clothing
- baby beanie hat
- baby receivers/blankets
Many facilities have different policies on the baby’s cord care. It is therefore best to enquire to your specific facility about what to bring for the baby’s cord care.
- A large pillow or feeding cushion for comfort after birth,
- Car seat to take baby home in
- Certified copies of ID and marriage certificate for the birth certificate for birth registration will be needed when registration of your baby – though this is not likely to be needed
- Medical insurance details if applicable
- An affidavit is generally needed to take the placenta from the facility. The placenta may be taken for burial or encapsulation.
Birth partners to-do list:
-Prepare a soundtrack of her favourite tunes that she would like to hear in labour. swaying and dancing in labour is a wonderful way of helping baby move down during labour.
-ensure that you have your camera or cell phone charged and ready to capture the special moments.
Preparing your bags for birth is like preparing for a mini-vacation so have fun doing it. Wishing you all the very best for your birth!
NB: Ruwaida Moola practices in South Africa. Your birthing experience may be different depending on where you are in the world. We advise you to check with your birthing facility to see if there is anything specific you need for labour and birth, or if there is anything you’re advised not to bring.