According to my mum friends at pregnancy yoga I got my hospital bag ready pretty early. I was 32 weeks and to me that was way too close to giving birth to not be prepared. My recent hospital admission had also made me realise that you just never knew what was going to happen. My husband and I were also preparing to move house (I know, what were we thinking???) so it was just easier to get everything prepared.
I googled loads of different blogs and websites to see what I should be packing in my bag. Since I was being induced I also had the luxury of knowing when I was going in and so ended up with three different bags! I rocked up to the ward looking like I was off on a two-week holiday (if only!). I’m sure most other mums will also tell you, I never used half of it! In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a worrier. So I packed for every eventuality. What if I needed a section and would be in hospital for a bit longer? Completely forgetting there are shops and family would bring me in clean clothes. So here’s what were in each of my hospital bags.
Big, granny pants. These are an essential. No matter how you give birth you are not going to want anything digging in to your stomach so go for loose, comfortable underwear. I would also recommend choosing dark colours because you know, blood. For that same reason, bring at least 5 pairs. I had been gifted the net maternity pants at my baby shower and took them with me but they were quickly thrown in the bucket. I found you are better to buy several cheap pairs of granny pants.
Water bottle with sports cap. Pushing out a baby is thirsty work so you are going to want to drink water. Especially if like me you give birth on the first warm day of the year and the hospital haven’t adjusted their heating to reflect this. The sports cap means your birthing partner can hold it to your mouth without getting drenched. Also the empty bottle afterwards is going to be your best friend when you go for a pee. The shower is definitely the best way to go for a less painful pee but with a new baby that opportunity isn’t going to arise as much as you would like so the next best thing is to take a water bottle with you. Luke warm water is best.
Nighties. Everything down there needs to be easily accessible for the several people who are going to be having a look so nighties are the best option. If you’re planning on breastfeeding you can get nursing ones but I found them a bit expensive. I managed to get ones with buttons that provided easy access also. Primark is the best place to head to because you can pick some up for about £4. They are going to get pretty messy so you so don’t want to spend a fortune on something that may just need to go in the bin.
Maternity pads. Whatever you think you need, double it! I had one pack of 15 and because I had some space in my bag I added an extra pack. I didn’t come home with any. The hospital will have some but what was left in my room was nowhere enough so I was glad I had my own. Not just for the absorbent factor but for the padding they are great. Sitting down is going to be difficult enough so shove on a couple of pads to ease the pressure.
Cooling spray. During labour I went from being roasting to being freezing in very quick succession. During my hot flashes my husband would give me a quick spritz of cooling spray. I got mine from Bodycare for 99p.
Dressing gown. I didn’t actually take a dressing gown because it was too big to fit in to my bag. Instead I took a long lightweight cardigan and it was a lifesaver. When I was cold I put it on and it was enough to keep me warm but not sweltering. It was also long enough to allow me to shuffle about the ward and hide my dignity (not that it hadn’t already left the building). Again dark colours are better to hide any stains.
Breast pads. I was leaking very early on in my pregnancy but even if you aren’t they’re good to have just to stop any friction. I found Tescos ones to be the most absorbent and comfortable.
Nursing bras. After birth your boobs are going to get pretty full in preparation for the milk coming in so even if you’re not planning on breastfeeding you are going to need some sort of comfortable bra to help support those boulders.
Flip flops. Your feet will most likely be swollen so flip-flops are easy enough to slip on and off to get about.
Socks. You will get cold during labour and I loved my slipper socks. They were so comfortable and kept me warm. You don’t want any socks that are going to be digging in to you so I found the slipper socks best.
TENS machine. I got a second-hand one off eBay and I’m glad I did. It was enough to take the edge off the contractions until the final part of labour.
Toiletries. I packed mini travel size toiletries. Mouthwash was one I was especially glad I packed as gas and air really dries your mouth out. For the same reason, lip balm is also a good idea to pack.
Hair band. The last thing you want when you are focusing on pushing is for your hair to be annoying you. You will also be pretty sweaty so it was nice to have my hair completely off my face and not have to worry about it.
Phone charger. Probably the easiest one to forget if you go in to labour naturally but a necessity for photos and announcing the arrival of your little one.
Going home outfit. For this I packed leggings and a long, loose top. Again you don’t want anything too tight. Once you give birth you are not going to give a crap about how you look and comfort is key!
From what I packed that was all I used. I also took magazines, headphones for watching TV on my phone, cereal bars, energy tablets, Lucozade and make up (ha) but they never even saw the light of day. If I was to do it again though I would probably still take all of the above as I am a firm believer in being over prepared.
Change of clothes. As I previously said in our hospital experience, partners were allowed to stay over in our hospital so that meant another bag to carry and a change of clothes was obviously a must.
Toiletries. He needed to feel fresh too.
Book. I don’t think my husband actually looked at his book but just in case we were going to be a while it was a good idea to take something to pass the time.
Drinks and snacks. I would say this is the most important for partners. I never felt like eating once in labour but obviously my hubby was still experiencing hunger at the usual times. The staff are pretty much focused on you and so the other half tends to be forgotten about.
Phone charger. In case you forget yours it’s handy to have a back up. My husband was in charge of keeping my mum up to date so I was glad he had his phone charged to do that.
Sleepsuits. I took 4 but only used 3. Again better to be prepared!
Vests. We packed around 7.
Mittens. We took these but the lovely midwife that dressed our baby for bed never put them on and we woke to Dylan looking like he had a fight with a cat. From that point on Dylan had mittens on constantly! Baby nails are sharp!!
Cardigan. Babies are used to a nice, warm womb and the cold can be a bit of a shock so a cardigan is always a good idea to pack.
Hats. This helps them to adjust to the colder environment as well.
Socks/booties. I took these but since Dylan was wearing all in one sleepsuits we never used them.
Blanket. The hospital will most likely provide you with one but for the journey home it’s nice to have a blanket to put over them.
Nappies. If you are caught out, the hospital will provide you with some but babies go through a lot so I would pack at least 12.
Water wipes. You are advised to clean babies bum with cotton balls and water as it’s the most gentle on their skin but the first couple of poops are going to be very tar like and I found only wipes would do the job. With water wipes they are at least very gentle and natural.
Nappy bags. I am very glad I packed these as the hospital had signs up everywhere asking you to put babies nappies in bags before disposing in the bin.
Muslin squares. If like Dylan your baby is quite sicky and congested then muslin squares are a must. Great for mopping up a variety of fluids! They are also great for throwing over your boob mid feed when people decide to come in to your room unannounced.
Car seat. Hospitals won’t let you leave now until they are happy with your car seat. It’s also just easier to carry your new bundle out in a car seat than in your arms.
Teddy. Not a necessity but lovely for photos.
To save space we only took our bags in with us and left the baby bag in the car until he was born. If you are being induced or having a planned C Section you will probably do what I did and over pack since you have time to plan but all that really matters at the end of the day is that you and your birthing partner are there to welcome your little human and all the rest can be thought about later.
Oh and on a side note, there will be someone who chaps your door in the hospital from Bounty who take a million photos and use your vulnerable state to try to bankrupt you by selling them back to you. When I was taken to the post labour ward I asked the staff to tell them I didn’t want to be bothered and they made sure we weren’t. I was in enough shock of being a parent all of a sudden without having someone trying to guilt trip me in to spending a fortune on photos. I had heard beforehand from other mums that they can be quite aggressive in their sales technique.
Did any other mummas find anything else useful to pack?
I found these videos really helpful when deciding what to pack, especially if giving birth in Scotland.