Deciding what to bring in your hospital bag
Preparing for your baby’s arrival can be a nerve-wracking time. Deciding what to bring in your hospital bag can be a challenge, as you don’t want to be burdened with lots of things you don’t need but also don’t want to be without either. With so many lists out there we spoke to soon-to-be-mum Natalie, who is going through this dilemma right now, and asked her what is going in her hospital bag based on everything we currently know.
By Natalie Harrison
I found out I was pregnant in February 2020 just as the world was beginning to realise the severity of what COVID-19 was going to become. My pregnancy, as I’m sure is similar for many of you soon-to-be-new-mums, was definitely not how I had imagined it would be when my partner and I first decided to try for a baby. Cancelled antenatal classes and social distancing from friends and family meant that all our research had to be done online. Preparing for my baby’s arrival was always in the back of my mind and I did extensive research into what to pack into my hospital bag. My hospital bag list is an amalgamation of other mum’s experiences and advice from birth coaches and midwives.
Whilst in the past people would pack separate bags for labour and post-delivery, I believe it is much less stressful to have everything in one bag/mini-suitcase. You can always separate the bag into sections to help keep things organised, packing cubes/bags within your main bag can be key in this. This way I knew I didn’t need to worry about losing anything.
I preferred this strategy as then once baby arrived there was no stress about needing to go get the other bag and my partner could make the most out of the initial bonding time with our baby.
I always think it is easier when lists are separated into For Mum and For Baby sections so that is what I have done with mine 🙂
This is key, worst case scenario even if you forget everything else make sure you’ve got your maternity notes!
- Maternity notes
- Birth Plan (if you have one – I’m hoping to have a water birth and have included this in my plan)
- TENS Machine
I included hand sanitiser and Dettol surface wipes in my bag as I think it is better to be more careful than not, the 2020 pandemic has definitely made us all a bit more cautious. Moisturiser and lip balm are essential as the air con in hospital can be quite drying to the skin. Other things to consider are face-wipes to remove any make-up you might be wearing when you go into labour and for me, I decided I wanted to bring makeup and straighteners for little tidy-ups for pictures/leaving hospital.
- Hand Sanitiser & Dettol Wipes (Due to the times)
- Nipple Cream
- Lip Balm (chapped lips are the worst)
- Hair Bands/Clips (keep hair out of the way)
- Hair Brush
- Face Wipes/Eye Make-up Remover pads
- Make-up and face moisturiser
- Hair Straighteners (whilst ideally I do not want to be washing and drying my hair in hospital it’s worth having just in-case you end up staying in a while)
- Dry Shampoo (same as above)
- Travel Sized Shower Gel, Shampoo & Conditioner (just-in-case)
These are all items which should help make a stay in hospital more comfortable, some are for helping during labour and some are key items for post-delivery. Whilst it is important to try and rest as much as possible during labour, it’s also a good idea to have some creature comforts that will help pass the time if you can’t.
- Energy drinks and Snacks (keep energy levels up in labour)
- Diffuser/Essential Oils (help create a calm atmosphere during labour)
- Eye Mask/Ear Plugs
- Nipple Shields (in-case issues with latching)
- 20x Maternity Pads
- 20x Disposable Breast Pads (easier for straight after delivery – save reusable for home)
- 2x Reusable Straws (mine are metal)
- Hand-Held Fan (check to see if your hospital or maternity unit already have some available)
- Phone Charger
- Favourite Pillow
Tip: There are a number of essential oils which are recommended for late pregnancy and labour. Essential oils can help to aid relaxation, reduce anxiety, reduce levels of pain, shorten labour and even lower blood pressure
(make sure to use a high-quality essential oil, do not apply neat oils directly to the skin, and never ingest essential oils. Always consult an aroma-therapist or your midwife before use)
- Relaxation – Orange, Rose, Geranium, Lavender
- Anxiety – Orange, Rose, Geranium, Lavender
- Pain – Orange, Rose, Geranium, Lavender
- To Lower Blood Pressure – Geranium
- Sickness/Nausea – Peppermint
- Reduce Length of Labour – Clary Sage*
*Not to be used before 37 weeks of pregnancy
Comfort is key! It is very easy to fluctuate in temperature in labour and so it is key to have options for feeling hot and cold.
- Cardigan (I felt more normal walking around in a cardigan, but bring what you will feel most comfortable in – such as a dressing gown)
- Flip Flops (I did not want to be showering bare foot in hospital toilets! My flip flips were 90p from primark!! )
- Warm Socks (apparently you can get cold feet in labour)
- Vest/Crop Top – For Labour (I think good for both in pool or not. Keeps some dignity but won’t get twisted or be in the way, the way a t-shirt would)
- 10x High-Waisted Cotton Knickers
- Nursing bra
- Strappy Night dress (easy to feed for after)
- Maternity Pyjamas (easy to feed but another option in-case cold or staying in longer, mine were black so as to not look too pyjama-y )
- Going Home Outfit – A Black Baggy Dress – (For me it had to be BLACK, specifically for hiding any leaks, and baggy to hide the big pants! 🙂
Whilst I always intended to breastfeed, and was fortunate this worked for me, I do think it is key to have a back-up plan in place; so I recommend packing some ready-made formula and bottles in with your baby section of your hospital bag.
- 6x Cartons Ready-Made Milk (as back up to breastfeeding)
- 2x Comfort Soothers
- 3x MAM Easy Start Bottles
- 1x Baby Towel
- 24x Newborn Nappies
- Pack of Sensitive Wipes
- 30x Nappy bags
- Cotton wool (small bag)
I was due in September so you may need to adjust slightly depending on what the weather forecast is going to be around your due date. Always consider the season in which you’re giving birth and add on pram-suits etc. as necessary.
- 3x cellular blankets
- 2x hats (one for getting dirty right after birth)
- 2x pairs of socks
- 2x Muslins
- 2x Mittens
- 3x All in one Baby grows
- 4x Baby short sleeve suits
- 4x baby vest
- Going Home Outfit – keep it comfy!
We were very lucky as our hospital allowed my partner to stay with me right through labour. Thankfully the world has now returned to normal and partners can be with you the whole time. However, I’m also a firm believer that you have enough to worry about and they are perfectly capable of packing their own bag. Some of the helpful items we included for my partners’ bag included:
- swim trunks (in-case we ended up in the pool)
- A change of clothes (again in-case we ended up in the pool)
- His own drink and snacks
- His phone charger and phone
I also planned a bag of extra clothes for me and baby which we kept at home (as we live very close to the hospital, this can also live in your boot if you live further away), which my partner was able to pop home and get if as we ended up staying in longer, but I didn’t have that many maternity clothes and the ones I did have I wore constantly. So, rather than them sitting in a bag useless for 6 weeks, I continued to wear them and only added them last minute.
If nothing else, I hope this list will help give you some ideas about what you want to pack in your own hospital bag. As new mums, it is so important to share as much information with each other as possible.
I wish you all safe pregnancies and births.
Good Luck x