What to pack in your hospital bag – the ultimate checklist
Your due date is fast approaching, so now’s the time to start thinking about getting your hospital bag ready. This is a really exciting time as it marks the end of your pregnancy as well as getting that little bit closer to finally meeting your baby.
After all, your baby could arrive quicker than anticipated so it’s always best to be prepared and this useful checklist can help you make sure you have everything you need.
Your birth preferences
Much of this list (particularly the quantities needed) will depend on what type of birth you are planning on having, your birth preferences and choices and any potential medical issues for you or your baby.
Whether you are choosing a home or hospital birth you should think about packing a bag.
In a home birth scenario it can be useful having everything in one place rather than having to frantically shout out demands and have to worry about where things are during labour – that way it’s there ready just in case a transfer to hospital is needed.
Having three bags will really help too: One for you, one for your partner and one for your baby. Again this will make finding things far easier during labour and birth, and getting your partner to pack the bags with you will also include them in knowing where everything is.
Mum’s hospital bag – labour, delivery and post delivery
- Nightdresses. With clothing, comfort is key in the postpartum period. Nightdresses are great for women having a planned caesarean birth as there will be no rubbing on the scar.
- Going home outfit. Think about a dress for leaving the unit whether you have a vaginal or caesarean birth. Alternatively, high waisted cotton leggings or trousers are most ideal/comfortable for after birth.
- Pyjamas. For those having a vaginal birth think pyjamas and a going home outfit which will be comfortable.
- Easy access breastfeeding clothing. If you are choosing to breastfeed, think about easy access breastfeeding clothing whilst in hospital as well as nursing bras.
- Bras. If you breastfeed, think about nursing bras, however if you are choosing not to breastfeed then non wired bras are the safest to prevent blocked ducts.
- Cotton / period pants. You will need around 5 pairs of cotton or period pants for a two day stay – period pants such as these from WUKA can offer additional protection from leaks which will protect your clothing, pyjamas and bedding if your waters break spontaneously or when the flow of your bleeding is at its highest volume and flow rate.
- Maternity Pads. Thick maternity pads are needed for the first few days. You will need either 10-20 single use or reusable pads and a wet bag as you will need to change your pads every 2-3 hours for comfort and hygiene. No internal period products should be used for the first six weeks due to the risk of infection.
- TENS machine. For labour and birth a TENS machine is a great comfort option and it can be used for afterpains, caesarean birth recovery and for any period pain or back pain in the future.
- Headphones / mini Bluetooth speaker. These are great for listening to your own music.
- Birthing ball. This is a great way to facilitate upright birthing positions.
- Flannel. A cool flannel is really useful for applying during the pushing stage where it can get quite hot.
- Pregnancy/breastfeeding pillow. If you’re breastfeeding, then a pregnancy/breastfeeding pillow can provide additional support in hospital. Pillows are like gold dust within NHS hospitals!
- Nipple cream. Again if you’re breastfeeding, nipple cream such as lansinoh is also useful (as long as you aren’t allergic to lanolin). Any breastfeeding pain should have a full assessment for positioning, latch and attachment and an oral assessment with your baby to ensure there are no restrictions or ties.
- Breast pads. You may need single use or reusable breast pads particularly if you know you will be staying more than 3 days or have been leaking during pregnancy.
- Wash bag. A wash bag containing all your toiletry supplies including; deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, moisturiser, lip balm, hair bands, toothbrush and toothpaste. Wipes or a washcloth can also be useful for quick freshen ups.
- Towels. These are usually provided in hospitals however some people like to bring their own for their own comfort.
- Snacks. These are an essential requirement for any birth and for both the mum to be and her partner. This is particularly important for any dietary requirements. Whilst dietary requirements are catered for, for the women there can be a delay in ordering the requirements and them arriving from the kitchen.
An example of this is alternative milk to cow’s milk – if you want your tea and toast after birth then it may take a while for you to receive it, whereas bringing in your own milk will enable you to have the best tea and toast quicker in a hospital!
Optional / Nice-to-have items
Optional items include cord ties, tablets or kindles (great for an induction of labour as a distraction) and aromatherapy oils, a wheat bag or hot water bottle. You may also want swimwear if you are choosing a water birth however you can be in a pool naked if you prefer.
For those who have a caesarean birth chewing gum has been shown to improve bowel function and peppermint tea is great at easing wind pain which is most common on day 1 (high doses and length of use can inhibit milk production so no more than 1-2 cups a day for 2/3 days at most).
You will also require payment methods for the car park and phone chargers.
Birth partner’s hospital bag
There may be a long list for a planned caesarean waiting round all day and natural labours can be long. If your partner is staying for an induction of labour with you or staying the first night or two to support you both postpartum then they will need a bag of their own.
- Snacks. Partners are not fed in the majority of hospitals so it is important they have food and drink available which is essential in preventing them from fainting (I have had a few partners faint over the years from not eating). Isotonic drinks are brilliant for energy and hydration during labour.
- A “Freshen up” Bag. It could be a long process so your partner should have a list of items at the ready. These could include; clothing, wash bag items, a towel, a pillow, a blanket, entertainment (tablet/music/book) and anything else to help their hospital stay with you more comfortable.
Baby’s hospital bag
When your little one arrives, you will need to have a list of items to hand to make them as comfortable as possible. Hospitals often don’t provide you many of the essentials you would need.
- Baby outfits. You will need around 3-5 outfits per day. If you know you will be having a longer stay in hospital then pack enough outfits for this. You can always have a ‘back up bag’ either in the car or at home for your partner to grab if you end up with a slightly longer hospital stay with additional clothing and nappies.
- Muslins. There’s no denying that baby muslins are one of the top essentials for a baby. They are so incredibly versatile and can be from burping and wiping baby’s dribbles to being used as a breastfeeding cover or a swaddle blanket – they really can do everything!
- Baby Grows and vests. A range of baby grows and vests, particularly those that fasten at the front, are the easiest to use whilst you are gaining confidence in holding and caring for your baby. A newborn usually fits babies of an average weight between 6-9lbs.
If you know you will be having a smaller baby then tiny baby sizes will be useful, and those babies estimated above 4.1kg/10lbs opt for 0-3 months clothing.
- Hat. A hat is really useful in the initial hours to help your baby remain warm but remember to remove it when breastfeeding to help with bonding and milk production.
- Nappies & Wipes. You will need a pack of size one single use nappies and cotton wool or baby wipes or alternatively 8-10 reusable nappies per day and 10-20 reusable wipes and a wet bag to take everything home in.
- Car seat. Your hospital will require you to take a car seat or alternatively a travel system or sling to take your baby home safely
- Formula & bottles.If you are choosing to formula feed then you will need to check with your hospital about their formula policy. Some hospitals require mums who are choosing to formula feed to bring in their own formula or they may have vending machines to buy formula on site.
For those choosing to breastfeed in these hospitals if formula is needed for any medical reason it will be provided (i.e not latching, low blood sugars etc). Starter formula packs are the easiest to bring in. Whilst the bottles are quite large for a newborn you can always take a couple of pre-cleaned and sterilised bottles to be able to pour half the starter bottle of formula into to use for the next feed (once you start feeding the milk should be used and discarded within an hour).
Whether you’re planning a home or hospital birth, hopefully, you’ve found this checklist useful in helping you prepare for some of the essentials you need to pack before, during and after your birth.
This sponsored article was written by Angela Willis – The Eco midwife – Maternity Expert and Registered Midwife
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