Untitled photo
Untitled photo

Top Tips For Packing Your Hospital Bag

I've been talking to quite a lot of mums-to-be in recent weeks, and it got me thinking about what sort of stuff I learned before/during/after giving birth to our two daughters. Most of the things I've been discussing have been about preparing for baby's arrival - what do you need for the first few days, what to put in your hospital bag and that sort of stuff. Having done it, I thought I'd share a few of my tips (or that kind of thing...). 

Now, there are tonnes of lists and bits of info out there about what to pack in your hospital bag (Google will give you a whole heap of pages) and in my experience some of them are spot on, and some not so much. I packed my bag at about 34 weeks, just in case baby decided to make an early arrival (which both of my daughters did!). What did I put in it? How did I decide? And how many?! What size? So many questions.....

I guess the first thing to say, is that you really don't need lots of stuff (unless you are going to be in for a while - I'm basing everything here on a “typical" delivery, with just an overnight stay in hospital). In short, you need things for you to wear, something for baby to wear, pants for both of you (!), and a few other bits to make you comfortable, keep you going through your labour, and when you're done (I couldn't eat a thing during labour but was STARVING afterwards!). I took too many things really, and I never did get around to reading the magazines I had packed!

If I could tell myself then what I know now, this is what I'd pack:

For mum:

* Pants. Real pantsI I really didn’t like disposable ones, they just were not for me. After you've had your baby, you'll want to be comfy - and for me that meant nice big granny style ones, sexy mama! I took four pairs, and I think I got through three   at the hospital (waters broke = new pants, contractions = new pants.... You get the idea).

* A towel. Some hospitals don't supply them so if yours doesn't (worth checking), you'll need one to have a shower after birth. That shower is soooooo nice.....

* Shower stuff - see point 2. It is ace to get clean.

* Comfy clothes for labour. Regardless of what you do for actually birthing, make sure you have something to wear that you feel comfortable in. I was in a hospital gown, a vest top, bra and pants after my waters broke (soggy trousers weren't very appealing) and when I was birthing, I was in the pool and so didn't need any clothes for this! Some people like to wear something on their top half but by that point I couldn't care less about clothes!

* A cup with a straw! This was an NCT top tip. If you have gas and air, it can make your lips/mouth very dry so you'll want something to drink. Having a straw makes it really easy to sip. Plus, it means your birthing partner can hold the cup, and you don't have to let go of the magical gas and air mouthpiece.

* Maternity pads. With my first daughter I had disposable pads but I didn't end up using that many of my own because the hospital gave me several from their supply, pre-birth (for post waters breaking etc). I only needed mine for afterwards and as I wasn't in hospital for very long I didn't get to the second pack. Again though, check with your hospital as to what they'll supply. With my second daughter, I had reusable pads - and this would be my recommendation now, they were so much more comfortable that the disposable ones I had the first time around, and I just chucked them in with our nappy washing. 

* Nursing bra (if you are going to breast feed). No further explanation needed!

* A top that you can wrap or button/unbutton, for feeding/snuggling your newborn wonder. I had a long sleeved stretchy top that poppered all the way to my belly button, which was amazing as I could tuck B inside it and button it around her, providing perfect skin to skin snuggles. 

* Some comfy post birth trousers or PJs if you are staying overnight. I went home in my PJ bottoms! I didn't take "going home" clothes.

* Spare socks. Mine got soggy when my waters broke so I needed my spare pair.

* Post-birth snacks. I ate SO many cereal bars after my first daughter was born. 

* Phone charger. With some Trusts' rules being what they are at the moment in relation to  timing of birth partner attendance, this is pretty important. 

For baby:

* Nappies! We used reusable nappies, I took 10 and I think we used 7 while we were in hospital. You can expect to change baby's nappy about every 2hours.

* Wipes. For afore-mentioned nappy changing. I cannot rave about reusable wipes enough - you literally just wet them under the tap, and they are unbeatable for cleaning off the meconium glue poo.

* Milk/Bottles if formula feeding. Different hospitals have different guidelines around this so check with your midwife. 

* Vests/body suits. I took 3 x newborn and 3 x up to 1month as we didn't know how big our girls would be. We only used one vest for with our first daughter, as she was in just her nappy from about half an hour after she was born, until 4am when I could bring myself to put her down in the cot. She stayed in that one until we got home the following afternoon.

* Sleep suits. Again, I had 3 of each size and we just used one. We had long sleeved ones as our first daughter was born in October. If their clothes are too big, it's not the end of the world - sleeves are easy to roll up! If you want to you can take specific "going home" clothes, we didn't bother and just took her home in her sleep suit with a cardigan over the top (which was massive and so had the sleeves well rolled!).

* A hat. One that fits... Hospitals like you to have one for baby. I had 2 in the bag the first time around, one of which turned out to be gigantic on her teeny weeny head! The smaller one wasn't as cute but it did at least fit and did the job.

* A blanket. If it's chilly out, you'll need another layer for baby to go home. We just tucked the blanket over her in the car seat.

* Car seat. And know how to use it! It's quite scary taking your baby home, and having to read the manual as you are putting them in the car is not ideal.... (we didn't do that with our first daughter at all, honest, not us). Some hospitals won't let you leave without a car seat so check this if you don't have a car. Some cab companies have them, and the NCT do rentals too.

Some people like particular bits of music, or stuff to read - I didn't really have the time/energy for reading and was in such a kind of trance that I'm not sure if I would have noticed music. Some people also have something like a TENS machine. In this upside down COVID world, now more than ever the most important thing is that you have things around you that make you feel calm and relaxed, everything else is secondary really. Comfort, comfort and more comfort - that's the way forward.

Sending all those mothers to be, that are going through pregnancy and birth at the moment all the love, strength and courage in the world - YOU CAN DO THIS.