Pregnancy is certainly the roller coaster ride with its own ebb and flow unique to every expecting woman. There is no surprise that this life-changing ride starts its climax during the onset of labour leading to the anticipated birth of the new born. After some serious bouts of blood, sweat and tears, you get to comprehend the actual meaning of ‘no pain, no gain’. From the hospital, surely and hopefully you will bring back home the cute little harvest of your endurance, patience and pain. But what you take to the hospital from your home in your hospital bag will prepare you better for any uncertainty during the climax of this roller coaster ride – labour and birth.
This post lists out the items you need to consider packing in your hospital bag for yourself, your partner and for your new born. You can also think of this like any other packing tips before you set off for a holiday far away from home. On a typical holiday, you bring back travel memories but here from the hospital, you will perhaps bring back the best memory of your lifetime. So this might as well be the most important packing you will ever do in your life. So read carefully and match with your own context/country/culture.
- My birth plan and maternity notes. (If you haven’t read yet, check out Our Birth Plan post here)
- Dressing gown. This will be useful if I end up pacing hospital corridors in early labour. I’ll also need one on the postnatal ward. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better.
- Backless slip-on slippers ￼ that are easy to get on and off.
- Socks. I’m told, your feet can get cold during labour especially in colder months.
- Nightdress or button down shirt dress to wear in labour. It will probably get a bit messy, so don’t buy anything fancy to wear in the hospital.
- Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during your labour.
- Birth ball. This can help you to labour effectively. Check whether the hospital has the right size for you. If not, take your own.
- Lip balm ￼as your lips can dry out quickly on a warm labour ward.
- Snacks and drinks for you while you are in labour.
- Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, or write your pregnancy journal to document how you are feeling in every phase of labour (only if you can) or iPad/tablet.
- Hairbands ￼or a clip. If you have long hair, you may want them tied up in a top bun.
- Pillows. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable. If not, at least carry a couple of pillow case, if you are a hygiene freak as me, you may not like to put your face on hospital pillow cases.
- Chocolates or cupcakes for midwives to say ”Thank you!”. I have planned to give a couple of them a store gift card who will be involved during delivery of the baby so that they can buy something they need.
- Music. Take your MP3 player or simply save your labour playlist in your smartphones.
What should my birth partner pack?
- Water spray or a hand-held fan ￼to cool me down while I’m in labour.
- Comfortable shoes. They may be pacing down the corridors!
- A change of clothes. Labour involves lots of poop, vomits, tears and other unpleasant things and birth partners often don’t get time to take shower until you leave the hospital.
- Disposable bendy straws ￼to help you to have a drink during labour.
- Swimwear, if they want to join you in a birth pool.
- Mobile phone and charger. If their mobile has a stopwatch/timer function, they can use it to help time your contractions. Or if they have a smartphone, there are apps available that can do the job for them.
- Digital camera or smart phones with a good camera to take photos or a short film of the birth and early moments with your baby.
- Snacks and drinks. You don’t want a dehydrated, hungry birth partner looking after you. If they bring some dry snacks like cereal bar, nuts etc. and healthy drinks with them, they can stay with you, rather than leaving the room to search for food!
What shall I pack for after the birth?
- A going-home outfit. You’ll need loose comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in hospital and for the journey home. It will take a while for your tummy to go down, so you’ll probably still need your maternity clothes when you get home.
- Handouts about how to get breastfeeding started, which you received at your antenatal classes. If you have a contact card for a breastfeeding counselor or specialist, take that with you too.
- Nursing bras. I’m taking two with me.
- Breast pads ￼
- Maternity pads . I packed a couple of packs.
- Nightshirt or T-shirt. Front-opening shirts are useful in the early days of breastfeeding.
- Toiletries. Decant these into smaller bottles, or buy travel versions, to save on space in the postnatal ward. You may sweat more after birth, so take a deodorant and your favourite perfume.
- Towels, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste and makeup essentials such as light foundation, concealer, mascara, lip-gloss or lipstick etc. (who doesn’t want to look put together in those first few photos with your baby)
- Old knickers, or disposable knickers. Don’t bring your best ones as they will get messy. Big cotton knickers can be useful if you end up having a Cesarean, as they won’t rub your wound.
- Arnica cream. Although there’s no conclusive evidence that it works, some women report that arnica cream helps to reduce bruising and helps the healing process. It is advised not to apply the cream to broken skin.
- Eye mask ￼ and earplugs, to help you sleep on a brightly lit, noisy ward in case you are put in one of those general postnatal ward (applicable to people in the UK who don’t pay for private medical facilities under NHS) with other new moms.
What should I pack for my baby?
- Two or three sleep-suits and vests.
- Baby blanket ￼ although hospitals are very warm, your baby may need a blanket if it’s chilly outside when you leave.
- Nappies. Your newborn will go through as many as 12 in a day as I have learnt from midwives.
- Muslin squares ￼ for mopping up any milk your baby brings up.
- One pair of socks or booties.
- One outfit for the trip home (newborn onesies are easiest and best to put on).
- Baby car seat. Some hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one.
- Jacket or snowsuit ￼ for winter babies (remove before placing your baby in a car seat).