Hello lovely ladies..
Have you been wondering what you actually need to include in your birth bag to take with you when you go to hospital to have your baby?
It’s hard to know when you are having your first baby what will actually be useful and what won’t, so below is a list of things that I think (from my personal experience of giving birth in hospital twice), actually comes in handy.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for some extra ‘hospital bag tips’…
What to pack in a hospital bag? – Your essential hospital bag checklist.
I have split this into four sections (yes four!) – For you in labour, for you after birth, for baby, and for the birth partner:
1. Hospital / birth bag checklist for mum in labour:
Your maternity notes (if yours aren’t electronic)
Your birth plan / preferences / labour plan
Phone and charger (so important not to run out of battery!)
Tablet / Ipad and charger
Earphones (wireless are handy). Listening to your hypnobirthing MP3’s or calm music through headphones is most effective as it blocks out other sounds which helps you to stay focussed in your ‘birth bubble’
Loose comfy clothes to birth in i.e. a nighty or big t-shirt. To be honest you’ll probably end up naked (or at least just in a bra/vest) as you can get very hot in labour and tend to strip off! Or maybe that’s just me!
Your own pillow can be handy to bring a sense of familiarity and home comfort
An Eyemask. Again, very handy for blocking out other visual stimulus and help you to stay in the birth zone.
Lip balm – your lips can get especially dry in labour, particularly if you are having gas and air from a mouth piece.
A Birth ball, if the hospital or birth centre don’t have them. You could check this out in advance.
TENS machine for comfort during contractions if you want one. You can hire these or buy them. I hired one from Amazon in my second pregnancy and it cost about £25– (although I never got to use it, but that’s another story!). Just be aware you obviously can’t use these in a birth pool as they are an electric device!
Speaking of birth pools – you may want a bikini if you would like to use the pool at any point in labour.
Hair ties / bobbles – like I said before, you can get very hot in labour. Particularly in hospital as they keep it warm on the wards for the babies. You may want to tie your hair out of the way. I know I kept getting annoyed by mine falling in my face and sticking to my neck.
Speaking of hot – a cooling spray or fan comes in handy.
A sports drink or energy tablets. These are a great way to keep up your energy for what is really a very athletic event! I bought a couple of packs of Lucozade tablets – I thought this might be better than trying to eat lots of food as sometimes you don’t really fancy eating in labour.
A water bottle and bendy straw – much easier for your birth partner to hold your drink for you whilst you take a sip through the straw. It doesn’t sound like much, but the more you can do to save your energy for other things, the better.
High energy snacks – nuts, seeds, chocolates, whatever floats your boat that going to give maximum benefit really!
Hypnobirthing hospital bag essentials - Below is a list of things that will help you in labour if you are using hypnobirthing techniques:
Your hypnobirthing MP3’s and calm/happy music playlist.
Lavender oil or room spray (a good tip is to put lavender oil on to a tissue to inhale, as if you change your mind and decide you don’t like the smell anymore, you can easily throw it away to get rid of it!).
Massage oil for the hypnobirthing massage techniques.
Battery operated tea lights or fairy lights to create a warm glowy atmosphere.
Photos of family and loved ones/ your ‘happy place’ / affirmations – basically something visual to look at that’s going to make you feel warm and fuzzy and give you positive vibes.
An anchor object. If you have decided to create an ‘anchor’ throughout your hypnobirthing practice, remember to bring that object along with you. It could be a cuddly toy, a piece of jewellery or a scarf etc.
OK, on to after the birth! These are all the things you will need if you are staying overnight in the maternity ward.
2. Hospital back checklist for mum after birth:
Flip flops or slippers. When I was in hospital, I had to walk down quite a few corridors to where they were serving the food, they didn’t bring it to each ward room unless you had a caesarean and had restricted movement. Also, think about going into shared hospital bathrooms etc, better to have something on your feet.
A light dressing gown. You may want to cover up but it can get very hot on the wards so you may not want your big fluffy one.
Soft comfy pyjamas. Think about front opening tops for easy access if you are planning to breastfeed.
A couple of soft bras or breastfeeding bras. Your boobs can get very sore and full after giving birth.
A pack of breast pads to catch any leaks.
At least 2 packs of maternity pads.
A few pairs of disposable knickers or big comfy cheap cotton ones that you can throw away after. Think that if you have a caesarean you will have a scar and dressing and won’t want lacy bits getting caught on that area.
A wash bag with toiletries i.e. shampoo. Shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush etc.
Hair brush and hair dryer.
Make up if you want it.
Ear plugs – these are very handy as hospital maternity wards can be very noisy (as you may imagine, lot’s of babies crying).
Loose comfy clothes and shoes to go home in.
Potentially a plastic bag for any dirty clothes from giving birth.
Ok, so that’s the bulk of it, a lot I know. It shouldn’t be called a hospital bag, as you could never get everything you need in to just one bag – you pretty much need a suitcase or weekend bag.
3. Now on to the hospital bag checklist for baby:
Plenty of nappies. Take at least 20 and that should cover your first couple of days in hospital. Your partner could bring you more if you are staying for longer. Babies pee and poo A LOT when they are first born.
Baby wipes or cotton wool. The going advice is that you shouldn’t use baby wipes on new born skin, and instead use cotton wool and water to clean them initially. However, just bear in mind that babies first poo (meconium) is basically like tar. Wipes or cotton wool – your choice.
Plenty of muslin squares, maybe 3 or 4, more if you are staying longer. These are just so handy for wiping up sick up, burping, covering your modesty when feeding, laying them on on the bed etc.
2 or 3 baby vests
2 or 3 sleepsuits
1 baby hat
Some baby scratch mitts – although most new born sleepsuits tend to have them built in.
Baby socks if there are no feet in your sleepsuits.
A pram suit if you are travelling home in the colder months.
A breathable baby blanket.
Sterilised bottles for feeding. It’s advisable to bring a bottle even if you plan on breastfeeding just in case you encounter some problems starting off.
Formula. Ready mixed is handy.
**Just a note that, although you do need to bring all of the above things, don’t panic if you forget something. The hospital will have supplies of all the essentials for the baby, and will be able to offer formula and nappies if you run out.
4. And lastly, don’t forget your birth partner. Although they can sort their own bag, it’s easy to forget that they will need some supplies too – especially if they are staying with you over night or plan to go in the birth pool with you:
Phone and charger.
Comfy shoes – they may spend quite a bit of time on their feet supporting you through labour. Bear in mind most birth suites have only 1 chair for the birth partner. They won’t be allowed on the bed (unless laying or sitting with you).
Swimwear if they are joining you in the pool.
Tablet/ Ipad / Book or some form of entertainment. There may be quite a bit of waiting around in the early stages, particularly if you are going to be induced or prepped for theatre in case of a caesarean.
Snacks and drinks. They will not be entitled to get hospital food like you will, not even tea or coffee! So make sure they have enough with them in their bag so that don’t have to go off in search of the hospital canteen! Bear in mind also, the canteen and shop will be closed overnight, so they may have to find a vending machine instead if they haven’t got their own supplies. (And you probably won’t want them leaving you when you are in labour).
A change of clothes – just trust me on this, giving birth is messy. If they are supporting you or holding you, they are likely to get messy too.
Cash and change for parking. It is a really good idea to do a recce run before going into labour so you know how long it will take you to get to hospital and how much case you need for parking before the big event. If your hospital car park only takes change, make sure you have some in the car ready from around 35 weeks. You don’t want to be scrabbling about for change in the midst of labour.
And there you have it – it’s a pretty extensive list, but that’s everything that I actually used for my two hospital births.
As promised, a couple of extra tips from a mummy that’s done it twice:
Tip 1: Ladies, my advice is for you to get all the things for the hospital bag ready, assembled and on the bed. Then, get your birth partner to pack it. This way, when it comes to it and you are in the throws of a contraction and ask for the TENS machine – your birth partner knows exactly where it is and doesn’t have to waste precious minutes looking for it.
Tip 2: Secondly, when you are transferring from home to hospital, you might like to put on an eye mask. This sounds strange, but it can help you stay in your birth bubble by blocking out the visual stimulus of the journey.
Tip 3: Third, I would recommend packing a hospital bag, EVEN IF you are planning a home birth. You never know if you might decide to go in to hospital instead, and having the bag ready is so much easier than trying to get everything sorted whilst you are in labour. You don’t have to pack it in a bag, you could have a home birth box instead.
So there you have it, a long one I know, but that’s all the tips I have on what to pack in a maternity hospital bag. And, as an added bonus, I have lovingly typed all this up in to my ‘Essential hypnobirthing hospital bag checklist’, which I will happily send to you in a PDF for you to print at home if you are happy to leave me your email address and subscribe to my mailing list!
All the loves, take care ladies,