I recall being very excited about packing my hospital bag. Aside from being super organised and loving to pack, the event for which I was packing signified a life changing experience with huge amounts of anticipation around the new arrival!
It was like packing for a weekend away where you have to pack for you and another person who you haven’t yet met.
When packing your hospital bag you have to anticipate all the things that this other little person will need or want. As well as all the things you will need or want when you go through something you haven’t yet experienced. Packing this bag requires some degree of thought and consideration!
Let’s also not forget the third person in all this – your husband! Pack a few essentials for him too. Necessities for him usually revolve around food – after all, a hungry husband is an unhappy husband as I’m sure many of us are aware.
Making sure he is fully fueled when we need him the most is really in our best interests, so anticipate his needs for the big day in advance.
My best advice is not to leave the packing until the last minute or when you feel rushed or stressed by other things going on around you. Instead, at around 34 weeks, set some time aside to start planning what is going into your hospital bag.
Write a list of anything you still need to buy or anything that needs to be added closer to the date, such as a phone charger. Once it’s all ready, leave it packed in an accessible place where you and your partner can collect it easily.
Having a friend or relative go through a check list with you is also helpful because, let's face it, baby brain is real and sometimes we just forget.
So, here’s my list of practical tips for what to pack in your hospital bag…
Pack at least 5 pairs as it is likely you will need to change them regularly. It’s best to have a few more pairs with you in case you have to stay in hospital longer than anticipated.
Cotton or bamboo knickers are best as they are breathable and help you feel clean and fresh for longer, as well as facilitating healing.
In my experience when it comes to ‘postpartum knickers’ bigger is better! However you deliver your baby, you are likely to experience some discomfort somewhere down there, so slipping into some Bridget Jones pants will be much more comfortable than the latest lace thong from the Victoria Secret’s catwalk.
Larger knickers are also better for accommodating the long chunky sanitary pads that we need to wear after giving birth. A low slung brief just doesn’t cut the mustard for these giant pads.
Also, bear in mind if you do have a c-section (emergency or planned), you won’t want to have anything that sits too low on your scar as it will be tender. Another reason to have at least a couple of pairs of truly huge knickers that go up to your belly button – definitely not glamourous, but certainly practical and comfy when you need it the most.
Disposable knickers are another option but bear in mind that it does take a while for your body to deflate again, so you may need some big comfy knickers for a while after the birth.
I found that investing in some good quality M&S knickers was one of my best and much loved purchases for looking after my postpartum body – they made me feel secure and comfortable, exactly when you need during this vulnerable time.
Never did I think big knickers could make me feel so good!
Loose Comfy Clothing
Ideally you want to have a couple of ‘outfits’ post birth. Skin to skin contact with baby is brilliant for as long as possible after birth, so soft comfortable clothes that you can unbutton down the front or that wrap and tie up are great. These are also ideal for if you plan to breastfeed.
Some women also like to take something for labour that they find comfortable and practical. Usually this is loose clothing you can move around in freely and that can be removed quickly if need be.
Slippers and Bed Socks
Being a lover of slippers, I couldn’t imagine not taking some to the hospital with me. They were ideal for going to the bathroom, especially if you are wearing compression socks, which can be a bit slippery underfoot. Bed socks are just a lovely home comfort that can help you feel a bit less ‘hopitalised’.
This was an accidental essential for me. When you are sitting up in bed recovering, holding your baby, seeing visitors, etc I found wearing a cosy poncho was the perfect piece of kit.
It gave easy access for feeding, kept me warm and snuggly and also gave me some coverage for when visitors were there and I didn’t just want to be sat in my pyjamas, especially when you are likely to be experiencing leaky boobs.
If you think you might like to try breastfeeding then it’s good to have a couple of well-fitting nursing bras with you at the hospital. M&S is a favourite for these as they have a good range and provide a free fitting service too.
Isotonic Drinks (Non Fizzy)
These are particularly useful in labour if you don’t feel you want to eat. Labour uses an incredible amount of energy so these drinks can really help to keep your energy levels up without being too calorific.
Non-fizzy is usually more tolerable at a time when you are already feeling bloated and ‘full’.
Tip: Using a bottle with a built-in straw, like a Camelbak is really good during labour as it won’t spill and you can drink from it at almost any angle.
It’s impossible to know if you will feel like eating during labour. Many women find it difficult to eat, even though they are feeling fatigued and in need of energy. If you can eat, then protein and carbohydrate packed snacks are great for keeping you going during labour.
Packets of nuts, cereal bars, and dark chocolate are all good for giving you an energy boost.
And remember, pack food that your husband will enjoy too!
This may or may not be needed during labour, but it’s worth having something with you in case progress slows and you need a distraction. Reading material, a pack of cards, or travel board games can all help the two of you wait through some slower stages of labour.
However you decide you might like to capture those first moments and hours as your baby enters the world, make sure you remember to pop that device in your bag and that you have enough charge on the battery and space on the memory card.
Contacting family and friends and taking photos to share the news of your new arrival will soon drain your phone battery. If you have a spare charger then keep this one packed in the bag, alternatively just leave a note on your hospital bag to remind you to grab your charger before you leave for the hospital – assuming you have a moment to do so!
These are something you can leave in the car in the weeks before your due date. It’s a good idea to sit on one in the car if your waters haven’t already broken when you go to the hospital. It can also be used as an extra comfort and support aid, either in the car or when you arrive at the hospital.
Have a couple of cosy blankets to wrap your baby in for cuddles and when they are in their cot. Breathable, anti-allergy fabrics, such a bamboo are ideal for baby’s delicate skin and help to regulate their body temperature, which they are unable to do themselves in the first few months.
Pack a few different sizes! Ultrasound scans may be able to take some incredible images of our growing babies, but there is still quite a degree in accuracy when it comes to predicting the weight and size our babies will be at birth. So to ensure you have something for the new arrival, pack a couple of sizes to see you through before hubbie can run home or out to the shops to stock up on what you need.
This is a mandatory requirement for the UK; you must have this with you in order to be discharged from hospital. It’s best to sort this out at least a month before your due date so you and hubbie can have a play around with fitting it in and out of the car (before you feel too heavy and exhausted) as they can be tricky beasts in our experience! Once you are comfortable with how it works, leave it in the car so it is set up and ready to go whenever baby decides to come along.
Snowsuit (in the winter months)
This is another mandatory requirement for the UK if your baby is born in the winter months, so you won’t be able to leave hospital without having one.
Things you don’t need to take in your hospital bag…
For change of environment from womb to world will be plenty of stimulation for your newborn so you won’t need any toys in these first few days, especially when they will be predominantly sleeping and feeding. Save on space and leave them for when you are home and baby is settled.
Although you will possibly need one at home, don’t worry to bring yours to the hospital as they will provide one for you during your stay.
We'd love to hear from you about any other items you found to be essential for your hospital bag, so please leave a comment below and share your recommendations with us!
Love and best wishes,
The Bamboo Baby Company x