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The ultimate hospital bag packing guide

pregnant belly

There’s a lot to think about and prepare ahead of baby’s arrival, so it’s a good idea to get your hospital bag packed about three weeks (or more!) before your due date. That way, it’s one more thing to tick off your to-do list and you can relax a little, knowing that you’re prepared should your little one decide to make their way into the world ahead of schedule.

So, what should you pack in your hospital bag?

Think of it as an overnight stay, although there won’t be a fancy spa and you definitely won’t need your sexy underwear!

The essentials

Although you’ll probably need it up until it’s time to go to hospital, don’t forget to pack your phone and charger. You’re going to want to take lots of photos of your bundle of joy when they arrive, plus you’ll want to contact your friends and family to let them know your news.

Pack a toiletries bag with the essentials like toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, face wipes, flannel and moisturiser. It’s a good idea to opt for travel-size versions of your toiletries to save space and ensure your bag isn’t too heavy.

You’ll need a couple of changes of clothes – keep them loose fitting and comfortable. And you’ll also need to pack some clothes for your baby too. Newborn size vests and sleepsuits are the best bet, but don’t forget a hat and scratch mittens too for when you get to take your little one home. Nappies and water-based wipes are also a must-pack.

Pack a pair of flip flops/and or slippers for wandering around the hospital and going to the toilet. Just make sure they’re easy to get on and off.

If you have a long labour, chances are there’ll be some down time, so pack a book or magazine and maybe some headphones or earphones to listen to some music on your phone to keep you occupied.

You’ll also need to pack your medical notes and birth plan (if you have one) to give to the midwife when you arrive.

But you already knew all of that – these are pretty obvious things to take with you. We’ve compiled a list of 15 items that you might not have thought to pack in your hospital bag…

Comfy dark coloured nightwear

Nightwear is an obvious thing to pack in your hospital bag, but you might want a couple of nighties or pyjamas just in case. If you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s a good idea to opt for nightwear which opens at the front, like a shirt. This is also good for having skin-to-skin contact with your new arrival.

Maternity pads

If you have a vaginal birth, it’s normal to bleed a lot after delivery. Maternity pads are more absorbent than normal sanitary towels, so pack a good supply of these as you may need to change them every couple of hours. The bleeding will start to decrease after a week or so and you may then prefer to switch to normal pads.

A few pairs of giant knickers

For the reasons above, pack a few pairs of big (!), dark-coloured, comfortable knickers that you don’t mind getting messy, and that are large enough to fit a maternity pad.

Slipper socks

Many women experience cold feet during labour (in more ways than one)! While we can’t stop those scary feelings and wobbly moments when you think about what’s happening, packing a comfy pair of slipper socks will ensure your feet remain lovely and toasty throughout your stay in hospital.

Snacks and drinks

You’ll need to keep up your energy levels during labour, as well as afterwards to get you through those long, sleepless nights. Non-carbonated, isotonic sports drinks will keep you hydrated, while healthy snacks like bananas and cereal bars will keep you going. Of course, there’s no harm in packing a few of your favourite treats like chocolate, sweets and crisps too. After all, you deserve it!

A portable charged up phone charger

If you need to be on hospital bed for a long period of time, or if you need to walk around, you may find that the sockets aren’t in a convenient place for you to charge your phone and use it at the same time. Charge up a portable phone charger and plug it in and go. This is particularly handy if you’ve downloaded something to watch!

Nursing bras

If you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll need a couple of good-fitting nursing bras. If you don’t plan on breastfeeding, go with your comfiest and most supportive bras. Remember, your breasts will be much larger than normal and may change size in the first week or so.

Bamboo Breast pads

You’ll need a supply of breast pads whether you plan on breastfeeding or not, as your breasts will still produce milk after birth. You can get disposable pads but not only are these not great for the environment, they can often end up stuck in the wrong place! Bamboo breast pads are soft, supple and comforting and easy to wash and re-use.

Hair ties and/or head band

The last thing you want is your hair getting in the way when you’re in the middle of labour and trying to focus on your breathing. Pack a few hair ties or head bands to keep your hair out of your face so you can concentrate on matters at hand.

A handheld fan

Labour is hard work, and you can get very hot. So, pack a handheld fan that your birthing partner can hold near you when you’re feeling hot and bothered. A damp flannel against your forehead also works well to cool you down.

Lip balm

It’s common for your lips to become dry and chapped during labour, especially if you use gas and air. So, pack a nice moisturising lip balm to keep your lips hydrated. We love this 4-pack of lip balms from Burt’s Bees.

Aloe vera gel

Your feet can swell during labour and after birth. So, pack some cooling aloe vera gel to soothe your feet (and other parts of the body) and help reduce the swelling. It’s also good for skin irritations and reducing the appearance of stretch marks.

Silicone straws

Labour is thirsty work, but it can be difficult to have a drink when you’re navigating your way through contractions. Using a straw can make things easier, especially if you’re in an awkward position for drinking, like on all-fours. Try reusable silicone straws.

Favourite towel and pillow case

Although the hospital will probably supply you with a towel for a shower after your birth, it’s a good idea to take your own just in case. Plus, it’s nice to have some home comforts with you. Don’t forget that you’ll probably be bleeding quite a bit, so opt for a dark-coloured towel to hide any stains. And a pillow case can simply make being in bed, when you need to be, a bit cosier!

A bag for dirty clothes

Whether your baby has a leaky nappy, or your underwear has seen better times, it’s a good idea to have a clearly marked laundry bag handy to keep any dirty clothing separate in your bag.

Things to remember

Don’t forget that your birthing partner will also need to pack a hospital bag with the following:

• A change of clothes

• Toiletries

• Snacks and drinks

• A travel pillow and blanket if they’re able to stay with you

• Cash for parking and vending machine

• A book/magazine

Once you’ve got your hospital bag packed – or most of it at least – leave it by the front door so it’s handy should you need to make a quick dash to the hospital.

You’ll also need to fit your baby’s car seat in the car in advance, so you’ll be able to bring your little one home safely.

And if you plan on using your car to get to the hospital, make sure you keep it topped up with fuel in the lead up to your due date (or keep it charged if you have an electric car).

Good luck!


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