It's time to pack your hospital bag; but what exactly do you need?
Even if you're planning a home birth, it's important to pack a bag at least 2 weeks before your due date just in case you unexpectedly need to go in to hospital.
Hospitals are big and full of long corridors so for your partner's arms sake, i'd consider a small suitcase on wheels.
If you want to be super organised, pack one bag for labour and the time straight after and another for if you have to stay on the postnatal ward for a longer period. You can always leave the second bag in the car until you need it.
Try not to stress about forgetting something!
Unless your hospital is in the middle of nowhere, you will be surrounded by nearby shops. Your partner can pop out and pick something up or you can ask someone to bring it in when they visit.
For During Birth
- Your birth plan, maternity notes and any other paperwork. You'll need them handy straight away.
- Dressing Gown. Perfect for keeping you covered when you're walking around but keep it light because hospitals can get very warm.
- Socks in case your feet get cold (seems weird in a warm hospital but many women say their feet got cold in labour)
- Something to wear in labour; whether that's a comfy t-shirt or pyjama top. Let's face it, it'll probably get ruined so don't pick something you want to keep forever. You'll want something you can move around in easily.
- Bikini top if you plan on going in the birthing pool
- Hairbands and clips to keep your hair out of your face.
- If you like your back rubbed, consider some relaxing massage oil
- Lip balm - Gas and Air can make your lips dry. Liz Earle 8 hour cream can be great for this.
- TENS machine if you're using one.
- Hand held fan
- If you're prone to getting very warm, a sponge or flannel to help keep you cool.
- Guided meditation/hypnobirthing/relaxing music if you plan on using it.
- Your own pillow (not necessary but nice and comforting to have one from home)
- Snacks and drinks for energy. You'll be wanting to have small snacks every hour or so in early labour to store up your energy for later one when food may not seem so appealing. Try and avoid anything too sugary as these will only give you short energy boosts. Instead try carbohydrates like sandwiches, crackers & cereal bars.
For drinks, try Lucozade and frozen Capri Sun that can defrost and stay cool.
- Something to keep you entertained. Books, card games, magazines, phone, tablet, music.
- Chargers for all the devices you're taking (phone, tablet, camera battery)
For After Birth
- Comfortable clothes/nightwear for if you stay for a while after you've given birth. Consider something front opening for easy access for breast feeding and also light layers for hot/cold moments.
- Nice comfortable clothes to travel home in. No one cares what you look like - you've just had a baby. You'll probably need your maternity clothes still unless you have a magic shrinking tummy.
- Nursing bras.
- Breast pads
- Maternity pads or really big incontinence knickers. You'll need to change your pads every few hours to start with but it will ease off after a few days. Take more than you think you'll need!
- Really big black knickers. If you have a c-section you don't want any that will rub on your scar and black because, well, stains!
- Arnica cream or pills if using
- Eye mask and earplugs for bright, noisy wards.
- Flip flops for in the shower
- Bag for dirty clothes
- Make up - if you're the type of person who will want to wear it straight away
- If you've found a book you love and keep turning to, maybe take it with you to reassure yourself while you're in hospital.
- More snacks for energy and comfort
- Any medication you usually take and may need during your stay in hospital
- Nipple cream. You may not need it quite yet but it's best to have it to hand just in case.
What Should Your Partner Pack
- A change of comfortable clothes. They may be there a while and might get dirty.
- Swimwear if going in the pool with you
- Snacks and drinks for them (because they can't touch yours!)
- Basic toiletries
- Phone/Camera & Chargers to time contractions and be ready to take photos
- Small Pillow/something to help them get comfortable if they have time to nap
- Something to keep them entertained (with a warning to drop it as soon as you need them!)
What do I need for my baby?
- 3-5 sleep suits
- 3-5 vests
- Blanket. Hospitals are hot but they made need it on the way home
- Nappies (around 12 a day)
- Sensitive wipes or cotton wool balls
- Muslins (oh so many!)
- Scratch mitts
- Going home outfit!
- Car seat
And Remember - Don't Panic about forgetting something!
You will not be the first or last mum that has forgotten to pack something, or just didn't realise they needed it. Send your partner or a visiter to pick it up for you - they will be more than happy to help.
Source: Pampers, NHS, Mother & Baby, Baby Centre