Congratulations! If you’re here, it means your little one is soon to arrive and the most exciting adventure of your life is about to begin! But you’re probably wondering ‘what to pack in your hospital bag’. Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered!
Your essential hospital bag should consist of the following items:
- Birth plan
- Labour outfit
- Tens machine
- Large sanitary or maternity pads
- Large comfy or disposable knickers
- Nipple cream
- Nappies + wipes
- Body suites + sleep suites
- Car seat
When considering what to pack in your hospital bag, there are so many things to consider! You may end up staying at hospital overnight; for multiple nights; you may end up having a different type of birth than expected and your little one may be a slightly different size to what the professionals had told you. So what does this all mean? Pack for all situations, but keep to necessities! You don’t want to be carting around heavy bags when in labour…
Now that we’ve covered the essentials of what to pack in your hospital bag, it’s time to move onto the comfort items. You know the ones that will make your time in hospital a little easier to manage. We even need to consider a few other bags you might want to bring.
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When should I pack my hospital bag?
When to pack your hospital bag is a personal choice, however, most people tend to have the bag packed and ready by the front door 2 / 3 weeks before their due date. If you’re like me and a bit of a worrier, you’ll pack it early and add bits and bobs as the time progresses and the excitement grows!
You never can be too prepared. My husband always says “failing to plan is planning to fail” so we tend to leave the house with more than necessary. As a result, our hospital bags were ram-packed and we didn’t use half the stuff we took! The upcoming lists should really help you to narrow it down.
What to pack in your hospital bag
Your bag is a lifeline. It will be a great source of comfort for you when giving birth. Knowing that you have everything you need to hand will help to eliminate some of your stress and anxiety. So, as well as it containing your essentials, it should contain things that will help you to relax.
Below you will find a list of items to bring with a brief explanation of why to bring them. This list also contains the items from the essential list above:
- maternity notes and birth plan – essential for you to give to your midwife outlining your expectations and how you want things to be
- your labour outfit – something comfortable that you can easily move around in and don’t mind getting ruined. You may even end up taking this off if you get too hot! So pack a bikini top / comfortable sports bra (especially if you’re having a water birth)
- snacks and drinks – things that will provide you with energy and are easier to eat, like your favourite treats
- something to set the mood – maybe your favourite book, a couple of magazines, your tablet, birthing playlist, some battery-powered tealights, aromatherapy oils and words of affirmation (especially if you have been doing hypnobirthing)
- something to keep you cool – a small fan or gentle water spray to cool you down (especially in the summer months)
- your phone, phone charger and headphones – if you’ve got a birthing playlist and you want to zone out
- your purse – you could be in labour a while like me and run out of snacks…
- your own pillow – big comfort item that helped to reduce stress in my labour
- a TENS machine – an amazing piece of equipment and a must-have for all hospital bags! Brilliant to help with labour pain and distract you from contractions/surges
- any medication you’re taking
- your wash bag – with your normal essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hair ties etc) a gal’s got to stay clean
- large sanitary or maternity pads – for the aftermath
- large comfy or disposable knickers – (opt for a size or two bigger than you think you’ll need) also for the aftermath
- towels – some hospitals will provide these, so find out in advance
- dressing gown – if needing to move around the hospital
- slippers – for comfort and flip-flops for the shower!
- outfit to wear home – think loose-fitting and comfortable over fashion!
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll really want the following:
- nipple cream – these bad boys get really sore really quickly
- nursing bras – you’ll want support but easy access
- breast pads – expect to leak… this will really help
- breastfeeding nightie – this doesn’t need to be the most fashionable, again, you want easy access for feeding and something breathable below
What to pack in your baby's bag
Once your bag is packed, it’s time to think about what your little one will need. This will vary depending on the month your baby is born. If your baby is born in the middle of summer or winter, some of your clothing choices may well change. Here is what to pack in your hospital bag for baby:
- bodysuits – short/long sleeve for under the sleep suit, depending on the time of year
- sleepsuits – pack a few cute sleepsuits, including one you want them to go home in
- a hat – to keep their little head warm as they struggle to regulate their temperature
- scratch mittens – as many babies come out with little claws and no control over their hands
- socks or booties – again for temperature regulation
- nappies – you’ll need around 15, though this number changes if you have an extended stay. I know this seems like a large number, but they just seem to leak after you feed them
- cotton wool balls or water wipes – your babies skin will be super sensitive at birth, these are the best options for nappy changes – one pack of wipes will suffice
- bottles and milk – if you’re not planning on breastfeeding, though many hospitals will supply this, it’s worth checking beforehand (we could have left this item at home)
- blankets – babies are fragile things that have been in a warm environment for the last 9 months, you’ll want to keep them warm
- muslin squares – for spit-up while burping
- car seat – many hospitals won’t let you leave without one
- outwear depending on the weather – though the clothing already mentioned should suffice
Birth Partner's Essentials
As well as packing for yourself, your birthing partner may well need some bits too. We were in over two nights so I was glad my husband had his bag close at hand as well; this is particularly useful if you don’t live close to your hospital. Some of the essentials for your partner are:
- spare clothes – if you’re at the hospital overnight you want to feel comfortable, also if they get wee or poop on them, they may want to change
- snacks – if all systems are go, you don’t want them popping off to the shop to get either of you snacks
- money and bank card – if you are going to be there for a while, it’s ideal to have some purchasing power. Hospital food isn’t always great
- a wash bag with essentials – don’t want to be breathing smelly breath around the hospital and on your bundle of joy
- underwear – the front back / inside out method is not something I’ll tolerate!
- a pillow – our hospital only provided pillows for the mother. I ended up lying and giving him one (it was basically a pancake), you want to both be comfortable
- some form of entertainment – this could be a book, phone, tablet, magazines. Something to do in case the labour is long, although you’ll probably keep them incredibly busy
- phone and charger – they’ll need to bring their phone charger. If you’re like us, when your bubba is born, you’ll be snapping away and keeping friends and family informed
Packing your hospital bag is so exciting, but can also be a source of anxiety for some parents to be. Getting it right and knowing what to pack is vital to give you the best and most comfortable experience in the hospital.
Some of you may feel that three bags is excessive. If this is the case, you could always just bring a suitcase. The three separate bags made it really easy to find what we were looking for and so alleviated a little anxiety.
Referring to having a baby as an ‘adventure’ is no accident. Having a baby will change everything! As you navigate your way through sleep regressions, toddler tantrums, looking at how to prevent SIDS and communicating with your little ones, you’ll see that parenting is a tough gig! For some interesting reading, find out the 12 things to know about being a mum in year 1.
It is our job as parents and educators to invest all that we can in to our young to help them grow to be happy, healthy, secure and successful.
Check out our other posts to find out more about how to be the best parent you can be.
Congratulations again and good luck!