There are many moments of pregnancy that make the journey memorable. From going shopping for baby items to setting up the nursery and getting your scans, all of these moments mark how close you are to meeting your bundle of joy. But, of course, one of the most significant moments is starting your hospital bag! But when it comes to your bag and what to pack, there are many different opinions on what you need and what you don’t.
The threat of early labour, an array of complications and a generally very-high risk pregnancy meant that from 20 weeks, I was researching what to put in my bag, and now at almost 29 weeks, it’s complete. So these are my following must-have items, as well as those you don’t need based not only on recommendations but personal preference, and the experience of having already been up on labour ward more times than I care to count!
First things first – your bag!
What you do for your hospital bag is up to you. Some people like 2 bags, either one for them and one for baby, or one for labour and one for after. Others, like me, shove everything into a case! If you’re like me and choosing the latter, a hard-shell case with separate compartments and an inbuilt lock is highly recommended! Not only do you then have the ability to split your case, but you can also keep it locked when it’s not being used. Cases like these are also great to use packing cubes with, giving you even more options for separating items however you need to.
What to put in (and what you can leave)
Everyone knows the basics of the hospital bag – nappies, car seat, clothes etc. But here I’m going a little more in-depth with 10 things I’m popping into my bag and 5 that I’m choosing to leave out!
- Maternity towels and breast pads – I’ve seen people say that you don’t need breast pads; however, if you’re leaking milk, then I’d definitely pack some! Although I use my Elvie Catches at home, they need cleaning and regularly sterilising, so if you are using products similar, then leave them out and just get some disposable ones for the bag! Maternity towels are also a must, as regardless of how you have your little one, you will bleed after!
2. Isotonic drinks – Can we rename these to lifesavers!? Drinks like Lucozade sport will keep your energy topped up and stop you from getting dehydrated during labour, especially if you’re unable to eat! If you have gestational diabetes or need to watch your sugar levels, they also do a ‘lite’ version containing 10g of carbs per 500ml bottle.
3. Snacks for you and your birth partner – If you’re like me and having to pack for every scenario, then enough snacks for your birth partner and yourself is a must! Some hospitals are still strict on birth partners leaving the room to get food, so plan ahead. I’ve got snacks for Alex that I know I won’t eat, as well as snacks both of us eat. I’ve also popped dried fruit in my snack bag for me, as that will probably be the thing I want most.
4. Cotton wool – This is so versatile! Not only can you use it to clean baby up if they poop before going home, but if you’re like me and use a cleanser that doesn’t require water, then you can use cotton wool to apply that and toner too.
5. Phone charger – The last thing you want to be doing when it’s time to get to the hospital is fighting with your phone charger, so plan ahead and pop a couple of cables and a plug in your bag! You may also want to pop a pre-charged battery pack in your bag as well, which is precisely what we’ll be doing! A 6ft cable is a good idea, as the plug sockets are often high up behind the bed in the hospital, making a standard 1m cable almost useless!
6. Button-front nightdress or PJs – However you decide to feed your little one, a button-front nightie will make life easier for you, especially if you don’t do hospital gowns! If you know you’re going in for a section, then I suggest nightdresses all the way to prevent PJ bottoms rubbing on your scar!
7. Simple going home outfits for you and baby – Emphasis on the word simple! You’ll be tired, in pain and just want the easiest thing to get on and off when the time comes to leave. My going home outfit is a simple black wrap front dress and leggings, and our little one will be in a vest and sleep-suit.
8. Towels – Yes, the hospital provides them if you ask, but if you have sensitive skin like me, you’ll want to take your own. One brand I highly recommend is Dock & Bay who’s ultra-fast drying towels are lovely on the skin, and they’re also perfect for travelling and beach days when your little one is here!
9. Cooling mist and a handheld fan – Take it from someone who’s spent more time on labour triage than they wanted to. Those wards are hot! An excellent cooling mist (I recommend this one from Beauty Formulas) is a must, as is a handheld fan that your birth partner can direct towards you when required. I’m not a fan of battery ones, so I have a large handheld fan from Daftboy, but get whatever works best for you.
10. Flip flops! I cannot recommend flip-flops enough, not only for moving around the ward but also for using the showers in the hospital. Find a pair that are easy to put on and pop them down the side of your bag so that they’re easy to reach.
- Muslin squares Yes, they are lifesavers, but baby stomachs are tiny, so the chances are you won’t need muslin squares just yet. If you’re unexpectedly in for longer than a day or two, then you can get someone to bring a few up!
2. Baby wipes – Remember I said you need cotton wool? You can use that to clean your little one with water. Unfortunately, most baby wipes are too rough for newborn skin and can causes rashes. I’ve been advised to wait a week or two before we start to use baby wipes, and even then to use something like Water Wipes.
3. Thick blankets – hospitals are hot, too hot for thick blankets! The ward at my local hospital where I’m giving birth also happens to provide blankets, but if you’re that adamant about taking one in, then an extra-large muslin which you can use to swaddle or as a nursing cover will suffice.
4. Breast Pump – Even if you’re expecting to be in for a few days, your milk likely won’t come in straight away. Breast pumps are bulky, and believe me when I say this, you won’t use the pump until your milk comes in!
5. Books, magazines etc. Again, these you probably won’t use. If you’re that worried about getting bored, get the kindle app downloaded on your phone or tablet (you can get a 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited here), pick a couple books you like and then you have reading material if you need it, without the hassle of taking up precious hospital bag space!
Do you have any must-have items or items you packed but never used if you’ve been through birth before? If so, then pop them in the comments for others to get an idea of what is and isn’t a good idea for the hospital bag!
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