I have shared my Hospital Bag list with pregnant friends countless times, so I thought it would be useful to add it to the blog so that mum-to-be readers can also make use of it.
When reading the below, bear in mind that I gave birth both times in Dubai where lack of space was no concern and I could take as much luggage as I liked. In the UK, space tends to be more limited and you may want to pick and choose what you think is important from the below (some is optional anyway, but if you keep reading you will understand what I mean).
This list is split into two sections – ‘For You’ and ‘For Baby’. So let’s start with the things you will need for yourself over your stay in hospital for labour, birth, and the first few days of your baby’s life.
1. Pyjamas and Dressing Gown. If you plan to breastfeed, go for sets with camisole feeding tops, which will make life a lot easier during your stay (and when you get home).
2. TENS Machine (optional). I didn’t use mine either time as I was induced with epidural, but it was always on top of my bag to grab quickly in early labour or for use at hospital.
3. Entertainment. You may have a long wait in hospital and find things a bit boring if you have a long labour or are induced – plus your baby will sleep a lot in the early days and you may not always want to sleep yourself. Take a selection of magazines, a kindle or good book, an iPad or tablet, and anything else you love dipping into during quiet moments.
4. Camera and charger. You may not need this if you plan to use your smart-phone to take pictures or videos, but make sure it’s packed if you prefer photography the old school way.
5. Phone and charger. For those important phone calls and texts when baby arrives – and to take pictures and videos. Make sure the charger is packed, as you won’t want to see 1% battery as you pick up the phone to share the good news.
6. Sports-style drinking bottle. This is one of the best tips I was given before giving birth (and not for what you may think!) Squirting water at stitches when you are having a wee dilutes the urine and stops the area stinging. I kept it topped up with cool water in the bathroom for a few weeks after baby was born.
Your wash bag should contain toiletries including:
7. Lip Balm. Especially useful if you use Gas & Air, which can dry out your lips very quickly.
8. Hairbands. If you have long hair, you won’t want it to be hanging in your face when you are hot and bothered – or afterwards when you are trying to feed baby.
9. Hairbrush. For quickly styling hair into an up-do for above reasons.
10. Face Wash. Even if it’s the only area of your body to be cleansed in the early days, it will feel amazing to splash water on your face.
11. Face Cream. Keep skin supple and hydrated with a quick slick of moisturiser.
12. Fragrance-free Shower Gel. Choose a body wash without fragrance to gently cleanse any stitches (important for both natural or c-section births)
13. Nipple cream (optional). If you are breastfeeding, you’ll need something to soothe nipples in the early days. Lansinoh is my favourite brand.
14. Arnica (optional). Arnica is believed to help the body to heal and I have taken these supplements after both births to try and speed up recovery.
15. Maternity Pads. Forget those slimline things; you need the biggest, squishiest maternity pads to can find, preferably with wings to keep them in place. Honestly; the thicker, the better. I found the very best brand is Mothercare. Pack a pack of 24 for the hospital (with at least another two packs waiting at home).
16. Pack of Full Briefs. You can pack disposable briefs if you prefer, but I think the extra expense of a pack of soft cotton briefs from M&S (the biggest granny-style pants you can find, in a few sizes bigger than your usual size so they aren’t tight) are well worth it for the comfort. Even if you have to throw them away afterwards, it’s worth it.
17. Energy Drinks. To boost energy levels during labour.
18. Healthy Snacks. I didn’t eat anything during labour and was well fed afterwards, but you may like to throw in a few healthy snacks in case it’s a long labour and you need some strength. Cereal bars, crackers, rice cakes; that kind of thing is ideal.
19. Straws. Throw a few straws in your bag to make sipping water during your labour easier.
20. Feeding Pillow. Finally, if you plan to breastfeed, I recommend a Boppy feeding pillow. If you are limited on space, buy one and leave it at home – but squeezing it into your bag will make the early days of breastfeeding easy as you establish positions for the baby.
Here’s what you need for baby:
1. Vests. I have always packed 5, just in case of nappy explosions or longer stays. I would advise popping in a few Newborn and a few 0-3 months, as you never know how big the baby will be until he or she arrives.
2. Sleepsuits. Again, I’ve packed 5 and in a range of sizes. Baby wears these with a vest underneath.
3. Cardigan. I have had both my babies in Dubai, where the weather is mild, so have only packed one cardigan for the baby – but if your baby is due in winter in the UK, you may like to throw in a few more.
4. Hats. Babies wear hats for the first few days to keep them nice and warm, so make sure you pack one or two.
5. Socks (optional). Not necessary if your sleepsuits / going home outfit are footed, but you’ll need a few pairs if feet are uncovered.
6. Scratch Mitts. Prevent baby scratching their delicate skin by packing a few pairs of scratch mitts.
7. Muslin Squares. Perfect for mopping up milk or sick spills, it’s worth packing at least 2 or 3.
8. Swaddle Blankets. Thinner blankets are perfect for wrapping baby. My favourite are by Anais and Anais. Two should be enough for your hospital stay.
9. Comforter toy (optional). Baby will not be comforted by a comforter as a newborn (he or she just wants you) but I’ve always liked the idea of their favourite toy being with them since the beginning, so it’s nice to throw it in and take a few pictures of them together if you have the room in your bag.
10. Nappies. Throw in a small pack of nappies in Size 1 to see you through the first few days.
11. Water Wipes. I know that the advice is to use cotton wool and water in the early days, but have you tried getting the black meconium poo off with cotton wool? If you have, you will know it is nearly impossible. So I always take a pack of Water Wipes with me. They are 99.9% water, so very gentle for newborn bottoms.
12. Thick blanket (optional). If it’s winter, you may like to pack one thicker blanket for wrapping baby in for cuddles.
13. Going Home Outfit. The outfit you will dress baby in for his or her first trip into the outside world. Anything goes here – but remember you will have to get a wriggling baby into it, so keeping it simple is a good idea.
It’s worth adding here that if you intend to bottle-feed your baby, you will need to throw in a few sterilised bottles and enough formula (pre-made bottles would be easiest).
You may also like to throw in a few dummies if you intend your baby to have one from birth, although if you are breastfeeding, this is controversial as some people think it interferes with establishing feeding. For the record, my hospital bag had both bottles, formula, and dummies to cover all eventualities. What you choose to do is entirely up to you.
Was there something in your hospital bag that I haven’t included? Let me know in the comments section below so mums-to-be can see your input!