When should you have hospital bag ready?
You’ve become accustomed to the lack of sleep caused by general discomfort and the small human dancing on your bladder and you’re swiftly heading towards the latter half of your third trimester. If you’re planning a hospital birth, it’s time to think about packing your hospital bag, but where do you start?
The mums in the Bump, Baby and You office put their heads together to create this comprehensive UK hospital packing list, just to be sure we hadn’t left anything off the list – we checked in with our fabulous Facebook community and asked them which items they wish they’d taken with them or couldn’t have done without. We wanted to make the best hospital bag packing list ever for you guys!
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to have your bag packed by around week 36 but you may want to get things sorted even earlier if your pregnancy his deemed high risk. Ready to start packing? Let’s get started!
How to write your labour bag list
The secret to creating a well thought out hospital bag list is to write by sections like you would a holiday packing list, as we have done below. As well as considering the items you’ll need before and after the birth, you’ll want to make a list of items to pack for baby and a checklist of items to take for your birthing partner too. Some parents choose to pack everyone’s stuff separately within smaller bags, so you know where to look for things when you need them fast in the heat of the moment, or you can ask your birthing partner to find them when you’re too exhausted to be rooting round for things. It’s also a good idea to pack with your birthing partner so that they know where they can find things easily and quickly.
Tips for choosing your hospital bag
We asked lots of mummies who have been there and done that for their input on this hospital bag checklist, so it’s a thoroughly comprehensive list. However, it’s important to remember that hospital rooms don’t always have a lot of space, so even if you’re having a planned C-section or you’re expecting to stay in hospital for at least a few days for any other reason, you’ll need to be savvy with your packing strategy and choice of hospital bag.
Suitcases tend to be a bit too bulky, though having some kind of pull along bag on wheels can be a real plus after labour. Packing a smaller bag for baby things and another for your partner that can slot into a larger bag means you can then take bags back to the car one by one if you want to. You can leave non-essentials in the boot and collect them as needed. It’s a good idea to return things you no longer need to the boot of the car once you’re done with them e.g. birthing ball.
When your bag is packed and ready to go, it’s often recommended to keep it in the boot of the car, but we think popping it close to the door is better as you can’t always predict who will be taking you to hospital. And when it comes to fitting your car seat, it’s important to practice being able to fit it safely but wise not to put it into the car until baby is coming home.
What You Need to Pack in Your Hospital Bag
This is the Bump, Baby and You hospital checklist for the mum-to-be. Remember to include things you’ll need during and after labour and cover clothing, cleaning, entertainment and food. Because every labour is different, you might find that you don’t get any time to play games on your tablet or that you struggle to eat snacks to start with, but it’s always good to be prepared.
Bethany Collings, Bump, Baby and You: “I wish I hadn’t bothered taking my iPad!”
- Your birth plan and maternity file
- A contact priority list for when you’re ready to make your announcement
- An old nightie or oversized T-shirt for labour
- Dressing gown
- Flip flops or slippers
- An outfit for going home. Think comfort and practicality – a pair of loose fitting jogging bottoms and a t-shirt or top that’s not too tight and is feeding friendly if you’re planning to breastfeed. Another option is to wear a regular loose – shirt with a vest top underneath so you can do ‘one up, one down’. If you’re staying in hospital a few days, take a couple of outfits and get visitors to swap them once they’ve been worn
- Pairs of comfortable knickers
- Comfortable bras – in bigger size than usual, nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed
Lauren Bracken: “I wish I’d have taken my earphones so I could watch something while I was waiting for things to happen and for when baby was born and I couldn’t sleep.”
Taking miniatures of cosmetics will leave you with more space in your pregnancy hospital bag
- Maternity pads
- A few soft towels
- Any medications you take
- Hairbrush, bobbles and clips – no one likes their fringe in their eyes when they’re sweaty and screaming!
- Eye mask and earplugs in case you have trouble sleeping
- Breast pads (whether you’re breastfeeding or not)
- Nipple cream if breastfeeding
- A pregnancy pillow/breastfeeding pillow
- Lip balm
- Glasses or contact lenses and solution
- Shower gel
- Shampoo, conditioner
- Flannel and face wash or soap
- Makeup – if you usually wear makeup putting some mascara on can help you to feel yourself after labour
- A fan and water spray to help you cool down during labour
- Heat pad for your lower back or TENs machine, check out other NHS pain relief options here. Some ladies also take paracetamol, which should be provided on the ward but can be handy if midwives are busy (always check before taking any medication)
- Mobile phone and charger
- Tablet/Book/Magazine or anything else you may need to keep you entertained
- Phone charger – you may or may not be allowed to use this on the ward, if not you can take a car charger
- Music on your phone or tablet – particularly any music or hypnobirthing audio you plan to listen to during birth
Claire Shenton: “Many many, more maternity pads. They seriously underestimate how many you go through!”
- Snacks and drinks – fruit and nut bars, chocolate, granola bars – think satisfying snacks that provide energy and hydrating water
- Pen and paper in case you want to write something down
- Any leaflets or flashcards you’ve made to help through labour or to assist with things like breastfeeding positions
- Pumping is not usually recommended under 6 weeks for most mums, but if you do need to pump for any reason, the hospital should be able to provide a pump
If you’re having twins or multiple births, use this packing list as a starting point to create a twin packing list.
- A couple of days worth of nappies, wipes, nappy sacks
- 3-4 sleepsuits and vests – you may want to bring tiny baby size plus a size up so that you have different size options
- A baby blanket
- Socks and booties
- Scratch mittens
- Cotton wool balls for cleaning the baby
- A going home outfit for baby
- Soft muslin squares
- Also make sure you have the baby car seat ready in the car too!
- Outdoor clothes (remember no snowsuits or thick coats should be worn when in car seat)
- If you’re formula feeding, you’ll need to take bottles and formula
- Car seat fitted in car to go home
Hospital Bag For Daddy & Birthing Partner
- Change for parking and coffee
- Phone, camera, charger
- Snacks and drinks
- Entertainment – tablet, magazines etc
- Toothbrush – they should be able to share your toiletries
- Any medication
- A change of socks, underwear and t-shirt/top, plus a sweater in case it’s cold
- A pillow from home can be handy for getting comfortable
And there you have it, if you’re packing for your 2nd baby – do you have anything you would add to our list or have you forgotten what you packed last time?