Packing the hospital bag is one of those exciting points of pregnancy where you know the end is in sight! With so many guides on what should go in there, it can seem a little daunting. We have teamed up with midwife and hypnobirthing expert Hannah Ewin to get the insiders guide to packing the most practical hospital bag.
You may be the sort of person who likes to pack the bag several times over checking you have everything, plus giving yourself an excuse to look over those cute baby clothes again. On the other hand, you may be the person who will be gathering bits (or ordering your partner to gather them) as you are walking out the door in labour. Having the bag ready to go from 34 weeks (even if you’re planning a homebirth) is a really good idea because you never know when you might need it! Here are our top tips of what to pack to stop you packing the whole house and to also ensure you don’t miss out on any of the essentials!
We actually recommend three bags; one for mum, one for dad and one for baby. You’ll see our suggestions and then our top tips on how to pack it all.
Mum’s Birth Bag
➢ Pregnancy notes
➢ Prescription medication (notify your midwife on arrival that you have prescription medication with you)
➢ Phone and charger
➢ Comfortable night dress or clothing for birth
➢ Bikini (if planning on using a birth pool for labour and birth - optional)
➢ 2 sets of pyjamas (remember to make sure tops are buttoned or very loose if planning on breastfeeding)
➢ Maternity pads (1 packet)
➢ Big knickers! (disposable or big cotton ones)
➢ Socks (thick woolly bed socks are great for labour)
➢ Dressing gown
➢ Slippers or flip-flops
➢ A nursing bra and a few breast pads
➢ Lip balm
➢ Body moisturiser (useful to stop any sore areas if you are enjoying a lower back massage in labour)
➢ Toiletries - pack a small wash kit with toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush. You can bring in your own towel but the hospital will also provide you with one so not essential.
➢ Hair bobbles
➢ Eye sleep mask (Great for getting yourself into a calming state paired with music if you are on a ward during early labour or birthing during the daytime)
➢ Headphones and/or earplugs for labour
➢ Birth music playlist/Hypnobirthing music/Hypnobirthing book
➢ Aromatherapy oil if using (You will need to check with your maternity unit if you are able to bring in your own oils)
➢ Pillow from home
➢ If Hypnobirthing, are there any visual aids you wanted to take along with you?
➢ Labour snacks and drinks
➢ x3 vests
➢ x3 sleep suits
➢ x1 cardigan
➢ x1 pair of socks
➢ x1 hat (woolly/cotton)
➢ Going home outfit (if desired)
➢ x8 size 1 nappies
➢ x2 muslins
➢ If planning to formula feed bring along the ready made newborn formula of your choice. Some hospitals will have the facilities for you to bring along your formula in powder form so that you can learn how to make it up so it’s best to check with your midwife at one of your antenatal appointments. If you are planning to breastfeed you don’t need to bring any formula for a ‘just in case’ scenario as formula is kept in the maternity unit as a backup if required.
➢ Car seat and baby blanket (leave in the car until time to go home).
➢ Cotton wool/ baby wipes
➢ Comfortable clothing (remember it is very warm in the maternity unit!)
➢ Phone and phone charger
➢ A book/crossword/game that the two of you can do together in early labour if your partner is looking for something to keep her entertained or distracted.
➢ Chewing gum/mints (if you’re needing to drink copious amounts of coffee the last thing your partner will want is the smell of coffee breath as she’s trying to concentrate!)
➢ Swimming shorts if you are considering getting into the birth pool with your partner to support her.
TOP TIPS FOR THE BAGS!
➢ Ideally pack the bags together so you both know where to find things as you need them.
➢ At the top of mum’s bag I would put one clear bag which has your birth nightdress in, a pair of big pants and several maternity pads (if your waters have broken) and your woolly socks. Also, if you’re planning on using a birthing pool, you may want to wear your bikini although it isn’t compulsory to wear one.
➢ Underneath, have another clear bag with post birth pyjamas (personally I find nightdresses with a buttoned top the easiest thing to wear post birth), a pair of big knickers, x2 sanitary towels and your nursing bra with x2 breast pads.
➢ For baby’s bag, at the top have a separate clear bag which has x1 vest, x1 sleep suit, a nappy and a hat (although most maternity units will have woolly hats they put on baby after birth).
➢ Remember to have your camera and phones charged and ready to go.
Snacks for Birth
➢ Isotonic sports drinks are great for keeping you hydrated and easy to drink from.
➢ With regards to food for mum during birth, think easy to eat, high in energy and easy to digest. Making your own energy balls can be great, ideas would include figs,desiccated coconut and ground almonds (blast the figs in a blender and then just mix all together)
➢ Fruit such as watermelon is refreshing, easy to eat and the sugar will give you energy.
➢ Plan your snacks before the birth, treat yourself to some luxurious foods that you know you will enjoy eating.
➢ If you suffer from gestational diabetes have something you’ve missed eating in pregnancy in your bag to indulge in afterwards!
➢ For partners, choose your snacks wisely! Ensure that you don’t eat anything with a strong odour. Not only will it make the room smell, but so will your breath. Avoid the cheese and onion sandwiches at all cost!
We hope this helps you feel confident packing your hospital bags. Now the really exciting wait begins!
Hannah is a midwife with 11 years’ experience and also runs Surrey and Sussex Midwives offering online private and group antenatal and hypnobirthing classes. For more information see www.surreyandsussexmidwives.com