Whether you’re the organised mum pre-packing months in advance, or perhaps you’re in need of some desperate help packing at the last second, I’m here to help! I’ve invited Faye Czajkowski-Davis, mum of three, midwife, and owner of Motherhood in Mind to take us through what to pack in your hospital bag.
If you go in any group which has got mums in, you will be able to search what to take in your hospital bag and I can guarantee there will be hundreds of suggestions! So we are going to whittle it down to the essentials and to give you a little bit of advice on how you can do things a bit differently. I’ve sorted my list down into three sections: labour and birth, post-delivery and things for your baby.
Labour and Birth
The first thing I recommend is actually to pack two bags instead of one! One will be for taking with you into the hospital with everything you need during your labour and it should last you for around 24 hours. The other should be kept in your car, or even at home if you live close, which you can grab extra things from if you need them. Often families come with baggage that they could live off for a month, however there are two problems with that:
- The hospital haven’t got that much space
- You have loads of things to bring home again – as well as your baby!
Let’s get started with those essentials.
- Hospital notes. Don’t forget these!
- Mask. At the moment, during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have to wear a mask in the hospital. I recommend bringing a spare one with you.
- Snacks and squash. During labour, your body is going to focus on the task at hand and this can cause other areas, such as your digestive system, to slow down. This can cause a lot of women to throw up during labour, so I recommend taking snacks that are high in sugar, that will give you a bit of much-needed energy. Also, it’s important to drink plenty of water while in labour. If you don’t like the taste of the water on its own, bring some squash.
- Cash / change. Make sure you have some change for the vending machine. For some women, labour can last a long time, so it’s handy for your partner to get you/them some extra snacks if needs be.
- Nightgown. Avoid pyjamas during labour; you want a nightgown preferably dark in colour for if/when things get messy. If you bring two, you can have one during labour and a fresh one for afterwards.
- Bin bag. This can be handy for chucking wet and dirty clothes in to take home.
- Flannel. When you get hot in labour, a flannel is handy to dampen and place on your head, although some women prefer a spray bottle. You might also want to bring a Thermos flask and fill it with ice cubes, or freeze a bottle of water beforehand. Of course the usefulness of this depends on how long you’re in labour!
- Maternity pads. You may need maternity pads even during labour, for example if your waters break and you’re losing water whilst you’re still able to move around. Don’t go for the little ones, go for the bigger ones – the bigger the better! You don’t need loads, but it’s handy to have them available to you.
- Pants. Get some big Bridget Jones-style pants! You know the ones, the ones that come right up on your belly. Again, the bigger the better. Go for black because they may get stained.
- Lip Balm. Your lips are likely to get really dry so I suggest bringing two or three lip balms as they’re only small and are easily lost!
- Phone / camera / charger. If you have a long lead, make sure you bring it as the sockets may not be close to where you are.
- TENS. If you plan on using a TENS machine for pain relief, make sure you bring that along, as well as extra pads.
- Hair bobbles (without metal). If you have long hair, make sure you have bobbles (and spares) to tie your hair back. Ideally make sure they don’t have any metal as, if you end up going into surgery, this would have to be removed. get your head bands, tie your hair out of your face. On that note, I recommend taking your jewellery off before you go to hospital. It’s one less thing to worry about.
- Wash bag. Just aim for travel sized toiletries. Anything else can be brought in if needed. Bring a roll on deodorant and avoid sprays and perfumes – your baby wants to smell you!
- Focal point / music / headphones. When you get into the throes of labour, it is sometimes handy to be able to focus on one specific thing to ground you in that moment. It can be a photograph or ornament for example. If you’re more auditory-focused, you’re more than welcome to bring in your own music or headphones.
- Flip Flops. Flip flops are handy for walking around. Slippers are OK but things can get messy, so cheapo flip flops are ideal.
- Towel. It can be handy to have your own towel to dry off after your bath/shower post-labour. The ones the hospital provide are very small!
Top Tip: When you get to hospital, take your bra off. This will not only give baby easier access when they arrive, if you’re planning on breastfeeding, but also means that it’s one less thing that needs to come off if you need to go into surgery, or have an epidural, for example.
Congratulations! You’ve had your baby. So let’s move on to the post-delivery essentials that you can keep in that second bag ready for your partner to bring in for you when you need it. Lots of these are going to be repeats of things that were in your first bag, but by packing them separately, it means we’re keeping the weight and clutter down in your hospital room.
- Big pants. More of those Bridget Jones’ pants please!
- Maternity pads. Just in case you need extras.
- Nightgown. Some women like to have pyjamas for afterwards, but I do recommend sticking to a nightgown even at this stage. If you’re going to be in bed for a while, perhaps if you’ve had a C-Section for example, we are going to have to give you a hand doing certain things and this can be a faff if you’re wearing pyjama bottoms. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, it can be handy to have a gown that has buttons down the front for easy access.
- Slippers / flip flops. Don’t forget to keep colours dark.
- Dressing gown. This is definitely one that’s worth having, especially if you’re going to be walking around during labour or perhaps after delivery, but I do recommend leaving it in the car until you need it as they take up so much space.
- Breast pads. Lots of women bring in packs and packs of breast pads but you’re probably not going to need them in hospital unless you’re going to be there for a while. Bring two, one for each breast and then leave some more in your car in case your milk comes in early.
- Maternity bra. Some women prefer not to bother, but again it’s worth having in the car. until you need it
- Home clothes. Again, these may as well stay in the car until you need them.
- Towel. You might like a spare towel or two if you’re going to be around for a little while.
- Pillow / nursing pillow. This can give you support while feeding the baby after delivery but, again, you might want to save it until the messy part is over as you won’t want to ruin your pillow.
These suggestions are what I recommend you bring in for your baby when they’ve arrived – but I do recommend having spares in the car in case you need them.
- Nappies. Bring in at least 10 nappies to start with. Babies typically need changing at least 6 times a day, so ten should give you plenty to start with.
- Prepared milk. If you’re planning on bottle-feeding, I recommend purchasing a load of pre-prepared milk bottles. Bring in a maximum of 10 with spares in the car.
- Baby wipes. Midwives generally recommend that you use cotton wool and water at the start, due to your baby’s sensitive skin, however baby poo can be very sticky! Natural water wipes are really handy and gentle on their skin while you’re still in hospital recovering and getting used to your new baby.
- Hats. Bring in a few different sizes of hats as you never know how big your baby is going to be!
- Vests. Bring at least four. Accidents do happen!
- Babygrows. Bring four, but aim for different sizes in case your baby is bigger or smaller than expected. I recommend bringing ones that have the feet and mittens. Don’t worry about scratch mitts as babies can often get them off quite easily; baby socks will work better as they can be pulled right up their arms!
- Blanket. If you have a special blanket that you want your baby to have, then feel free to bring one, however the hospital do have them.
- Muslin squares. These will become a staple piece of equipment for cleaning up baby vomit, so bring them along from the start! I recommend having three with more in the car if required.
- Going home clothes. Lots of families get excited about a fancy going home outfit, but I think baby will be much more comfortable in a simple babygrow. Make sure you consider the length of the journey and dress them appropriately. Remove thick blankets once the car is warmed up.
Faye uses her knowledge as a midwife, therapist and as a mum of three to give service that caters to all aspects of being a mother. She can help with physical and mental wellbeing from pre-conception through to post-partum and beyond. Follow Motherhood in Mind on Facebook or join her group designed to support you every step of the way.