Packing your hospital bag probably the stage of pregnancy where the reality of it all hits you – suddenly it’s all real. But labour is one of the biggest uncertainties about pregnancy – you rarely know when it’s going to happen, or exactly how it’s going to go. So planning for it can be really tricky. There are always going to be things that you take that don’t get used, and other things that you’d forgotten that you wished you’d had.
So what will I be packing in my hospital bag second time around?
I found it helpful last time to have 3 hospital bags – one for the labour, one for the baby (great tip: use your changing bag!), and one for me after the birth. That way everything is kept separate, and hopefully easier for my husband to locate stuff when I’m asking (or shouting!) for it. It also means you can only take in what you need at that time: the ‘after the birth’ bag can be left in the car until it’s time to bring it in, and once the labour is over, the labour bag can be taken home straight away.
Probably the single most important thing for you to remember!
Last time around I didn’t take any hair ties with me, and I was really irritated by my long hair falling in my face. This time I’m taking a stash of them so that there’s no way the hair band fairy can steal them!
I love my Avene Eau Thermale and will be taking it to spritz my face during the labour. Hospitals can get so hot, so the cooling of the water spray is such a relief.
Apparently labour is the equivalent of running a marathon, so it’s no wonder it leaves you feeling absolutely exhausted afterwards! I’ll be taking two bottles of lucozade sport in with me (I can’t stand the Original stuff), as well as snacks. My last labour was quick though, so I’m hoping that it’s the same this time around and they stay untouched.
It can be difficult to drink if you’re lying flat on a bed, so I’m packing a few straws.
Gas and air really dries out your lips and can leave them feeling sore and chapped. I’m taking my trust Nuxe lip balm which is the best one I’ve come across to date.
I used a Tens machine in my first labour while we were at home. It was a useful distraction from the contractions, but ultimately I felt being in the bath was a much better pain reliever. Still, I’ll be taking it along anyway, as although I like the idea of a water birth, last time it wasn’t a possibility for various reasons, so I’d like a backup pain reliever!
Nightdress / old t-shirt
I remember I packed one of these last time and it never got worn as everything ended up progressing too quickly and I just wore a hospital gown, but better to have it packed in case!
Ideally I would like to use the birthing pool, so I’m going to pack a bikini top just in case that ends up being possible.
Probably not for actually ‘in labour’ but I’ll be wanting to capture those first moments on camera.
Mobile phone and charger
Can anyone cope these days without a mobile phone? The thought of being without mine sends me into a panic, and you’ll be wanting to get in touch with all the important people to let them know the baby has arrived.
For any dirty clothing.
For the Baby
Nappies in newborn size
I’m not going to take too many nappies as assuming everything is fine, I don’t plan to be staying in long, and you can always buy them in the hospital shop.
First time around I read the advice from the hospital that said they strongly encouraged all parents to use cotton wool and water for nappy changing. After experiencing trying to remove the tar-like substance that is baby poo with just cotton wool and water, I’m not going down that road again! WaterWipes are the world’s purest baby wipes, 99.9% purified water, and 0.1% fruit extract, meaning they are super gentle on baby skin. They’re also the only wipes to be approved by Allergy UK, so great for babies (or adults like me) who suffer with eczema. I used these on Max after a few weeks and I was really impressed with how effective and gentle they were on his skin, so I’ll be taking a stash of these into the hospital with us. I really loved how wet they were throughout the use of the packet (even when my husband failed to seal them back up properly!)
Sleep suits and vests
I’m planning to take 3 sleepsuits in newborn size, as well as a few vests to go underneath. If we end up needing any more clothes, we’re close to the hospital, so it’s not a big deal for John to swing by and pick them up.
I seem to have a collection of gorgeous blankets, so I’ll be taking one to use for the baby in hospital, and to put over the car seat when we leave.
I think muslins have to be the most essential piece of kit for a baby in the first 8 months. So useful for so many things, but mainly in those early days for mopping up any milk your baby brings up.
For me after the birth
Nursing nightdress / pyjamas / dressing gown
Preferably all in dark colours and nothing I’m going to begrudge throwing out afterwards.
Luckily all my maternity bras double up as nursing bras, so I’m all sorted!
You’ll need more of these than you think! I’m just going to take one pack in with me and keep a few more on standby at home. I remember liking these from Mothercare last time – with wings and aloe vera for it’s soothing properties.
While we’re on the glamourous items, make sure you have a pack of big high waisted cotton knickers. I’m not bothering buying disposable knickers, just a cheapy pack that will do the job and will probably be thrown away afterwards. You’ll want something comfortable and high-waisted so that should you need a C-section they won’t rub on your wound.
An old towel
I’m not sure if my hospital even provide towels, but I’ll be taking my own anyway! Like the nightwear, it’ll be an old one that I won’t mind throwing away afterwards.
A great tip I got last time was to take flip flops – trust me, you won’t want to be walking around the post-natal ward and the bathrooms in bare feet, or slippers.
Realistically, you won’t want to be spending much time in the shower on the ward so the idea of taking pampering toiletries is a bit ridiculous. But you will definitely want to take a shower after the birth, so do take along some shower gel / shampoo etc. and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
You probably won’t end up using these as the milk doesn’t come in properly for a few days, but better to stash a few in the bag just in case.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, even if just while you’re in the hospital, make sure you bring some of this wonder stuff with you. Their HPA Lanolin is really soothing on sore nipples and there’s no need to remove it before a feed, so minimum faffing involved.
Eye mask and ear plugs
I found the post-natal ward an awful place to be last time around. It was loud, bright, and really stressful, throughout the day and the night too. Although I’m hoping to avoid spending long there this time, I’ll be taking an eye mask and ear plugs just in case. Don’t worry – you’ll still hear your own baby through the ear plugs, but the might help drown out the rest of the noise.
Similarly, last time the hospital food was even worse than I’d expected. I was served a chicken curry which had one piece of manky chicken in, swimming in a watery sauce. Pack snacks in your bag like crisps, oat bars, raisins, and chocolate (because you’ve just given birth, you deserve to gorge on chocolate!)
A small jug
No-one told me this first time around and I really really wish they had. Take a small jug with you that you can take to the toilet with you to pour over while you have a wee. Seriously, having a wee over grazes and stitches hurts like hell, but with the water at the same time it’s nowhere near as bad.
A going home outfit
It’s much easier to pack this yourself rather than describe to your husband later and hope he grabs the right thing! Something comfy and loose fitting like a maternity dress is perfect, as you’ll still have a noticeable bump for a while.
And a few things I won’t be taking!
I’m not sure what possessed me to take this first time around but I can feel the same compulsion this time too. I thought I’d going to want to look nice for any photos but the reality was that I just didn’t care – I was too exhausted and on too much of a post-birth high to care about how I looked and the makeup bag remained in my bag untouched.
I read loads of hospital bag lists to pack plenty of pillows, some people even taking their huge pregnancy pillows into the hospital. Although I can see that a nursing pillow can be helpful, it’s a really bulky item and one I’ll be leaving at home.
No need to drag this into the hospital until you’re actually ready to leave! I’ll probably install ours in the car in those last few weeks, just so we’re ready.
Much like the makeup bag, I had anticipated I would definitely want to take these first time around – after all, there are ‘first moments’ photos to capture! But again, I couldn’t have cared less about the state of my hair. These will be staying at home this time around!
What did you find useful in your hospital bag? Is there anything I’ve missed that you found essential?
Disclosure: I was sent some of these items for inclusion in this post. As always, all words and opinions are my own.