Essential packing tips for your Hospital Bag and free Checklist
I don't know why but I LOVED packing my hospital bag, it just felt so exciting and a very "oh my god this is actually happening, I'm having a baby" moment. I'm sure I'm not the only one that loves a bit of organisation and packing. So I thought I'd gather my lists together (yes there were multiple) and create a super easy list of things to pack and how to organise your hospital bag. Because trust me, no one wants to be searching for things they really need when they are in the throws of labour, or having to direct your lovely partner to where you packed things.
TIP - make sure your birthing partner packs your bag with you or at least knows what's in it and where to find things.
First of all, let's discuss what type of bag to take. Holdall? Suitcase? Backpack? It's personal preference, but I actually used all three! A suitcase on wheels for my things, a small holdall for the baby's things and a backpack for my partners things.
Let's quickly run through why my husband had a back pack. I hate to say it but labour can be looooong, and while you're going through some pretty crazy bodily functions your partner may need some things too and sometimes it's just easier if they have their own bag and they know where their stuff is. So what to include:
- Lot's of snacks
- Bottle of water/energy drink
- Magazine, books, Ipad with headphones
- Pair of shorts and t-shirt, those rooms get HOT!
- Fresh underwear and socks
- Change for the car park
It's pretty basic but they'll be glad they brought some things for themselves without having to ask you where anything is.
Whilst you don't want to overpack, you definitely want to be prepared. You may find that you have to stay in hospital for a few days after birth so it's useful to already have things with you that you may need.
I always find having smaller bags to organise the important things inside your suitcase really useful. Our set of hospital bag organisers is perfect for this! From experience I strongly recommend putting together a small bag with your labour essentials in. I found myself sat in a waiting room for half an hour when I was in active labour and having contractions every 3 minutes and I didn't have any of the little things that helped me through it and my god I wish i did! So in your labour essentials bag I recommend -
- hand held fan
- lip balm
- any essential oils that you may have been using (these from Merak & Co are perfect)
- small snack
- headphones to listen to any calming music/hypnobirthing
- hair band
- Pregnancy notes and birth preferences
- Tens machine if you plan to use one, just make sure that it's working and you've tested it so you know how it works before labour starts.
- Comfy, dark coloured dress/t-shirt for labour
- Dark towel for showering. Can you see a theme here? There's just a lot of bodily fluids in labour and post-birth that you may not want to make so obvious so stick to the dark coloured options!
- Speaker or headphones to listen to your birth playlist of hypnobirthing scripts
- Snacks. This is a divisive one, some people don't feel like eating during labour, some people eat all of their snacks. Personally all I could manage was some jelly babies and lucozade sport. Whatever snacks you choose, I definitely recommend adding in some easy to grab sweets that will give you little hit of sugar to keep you going.
- Water bottle preferably the type with a straw so you don't need to tip your head back to get the water out. Sounds dramatic but whatever you can do to make your life easier in labour is a big win if you ask me.
- 3 nursing bras. Whether you plan to breastfeed or not, your boobs are going to go through some serious changes in the first few days so a comfy, soft bra is essential.
- 5 x pairs of dark coloured cotton pants, these ones from Marks and Spencers are great!
- Swimwear if you hope to use a birth pool (including some for your partner incase they can be in the birth pool with you).
- Comfy outfit for after birth. Pyjamas, loungewear, just whatever you feel comfiest in. A button up top is ideal so you can easily have skin to skin with your baby or breastfeed.
- Maternity pads and lots of them. Whatever type of birth you end up having there will be a need for maternity pads. And not just sanitary towels you need the nice big, thick mattress-esque maternity pads! I also packed the women's disposable underwear but for me they just weren't comfortable and pretty pricey! Personal opinion, stick to some comfy pants with a maternity pad.
- A lot of lists will recommend a peri bottle or similar products for down there after birth. I bought them and didn't use them! Everyone is different so if you want to be prepared then go for it but if you're not sure if you're going to use it then maybe order a peri bottle on amazon a week or two before your due date, if you don't use it you can return it!
- Extra pyjamas/loungewear incase you do have to stay in a few days.
- Toiletries - shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, basic make up (some people don't want to bother with it but I found it made me feel a bit better and more like myself), glasses/contact lenses if you need them, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, hairbands, deodorant.
- Extension lead. Again maybe I'm just a crazy over packer but I found it so useful for the four days I was in hospital after birth. You'll probably only have one plug by your bed and it will be in the most awkward place that you can't reach!
- Phone chargers
- Night light Hospital lights can be really bright and awkward, I found this little night light perfect for middle of the night feeds not only in hospital but at home too.
- Dressing gown and slippers. Just a nice little home comfort that you'll appreciate if you have to stay in.
- Eye mask. Getting sleep when you're exhausted from labour is essential and you might only get chance a few hours in the middle of the day while the baby is sleeping and those hospital lights are bright so an eye mask is perfect to help you get some rest.
- Your own pillow. Do you look like you're moving into the hospital when you arrive? Yes, but you won't regret it.
- Paracetamol. Yes you're in a hospital with lots of pain relief but nurses and midwives are busy and its far easier to just take your own!
- Notepad and pen. You may prefer to just write things in the notes on your phone but you may be given lots of info if you're staying in hospital for any reason so having a place to write notes down is really useful.
If you plan to breastfeed then having our little "breastfeeding essentials" bag is perfect to have everything in one place. It's also handy for when you're at home and just need to grab everything quickly. I know what you're thinking, surely all I need is my breast and a baby? While that is true, the first few days and weeks aren't always plain sailing. You'll definitely need some breast pads because those boobs are going to leak, and leak, and leak, and leak! Long term, the re-useable breast pads are the best option but while your milk is still coming in it's much more practical to use the disposable breast pads. In a perfect world breast feeding feels amazing and it definitely can, but in the early days your ta-tas will appreciate you having some nipple cream close to hand. This one isn't for everyone but from personal experience (which you can read a bit more about in this instagram post) I recommend getting some nipple shields. You may use them, you may not but it's something I really wish I'd had with me when I gave birth. In the first few days after birth, breastfeeding encourages the uterous to contract and shrink back down to size. This can sometimes be a bit painful so some paracetamol can be a really handy addition to your breastfeeding essentials bag. Last but not least, lip balm. It's just one of those things that you always need (especially if you're in a hospital) and its no fun being stuck under a baby and can't reach it.
A small holdall is perfect for your baby's bag. Again the "baby essentials" bag will come in handy here to make sure you have the important things easy to find.
- 10 newborn nappies. It's a good idea to also put a whole pack of nappies in the car and if you find you have to stay in for a few days, your partner can just go and get them so you know you wont run out while you're in hospital like I nearly did!
- First outfit and going home outfit, most people choose these outfits specifically because they're pretty special and ones you'll want to keep forever.
- 5 newborn bodysuits
- 5 newborn sleep-suits, the ones with feet and fold over mits are preferable.
- 2 hats
- 1 cellular blanket, the hospital should have these but it's useful to have your own.
- 3 muslin cloths. You'll hear it a lot because it's so true, you can never have too many muslins.
- Wipes and cotton wool
- Baby nail clippers, those tiny nails are scratchy! Don't be afraid of trimming their nails, it's much easier than you imagine.
- Nappy cream
Some of these things may seem overkill but you have no idea how your birth may go and how long you may be in hospital for. I didn't expect to stay in for 4 days so I was constantly texting my husband asking to bring certain things in every day. If you already go semi-prepared to stay in for a few days then it will make the experience far less stressful.
If you haven't realised yet I'm a bit of a control freak and I created a super handy checklist for packing my bag. It includes space to check off when you've bought the item and then for when you've packed it so you can know exactly what you still need. There's also space to write in any extras you might need for your hospital bag. You can download the free hospital bag checklist here.
And if you haven't got your hospital bag organisers yet then here's the link to buy the set of 4 bags with an option to add the breastfeeding essentials bag.