A subject that always raises lots of questions with ‘soon to be mama’s’ is the bewildering hospital bag. What is needed? What is necessary? Which items are completely pointless?
I turned to my gorgeous friend Jamie, from Mama Bear Of One, to help me, and together we have have collated our ‘Hospital Bag Must Haves’. We have each written our top 10 to try and help answer that all important question…
What should you pack in your hospital bag?
First of all, I would advise that you actually pack two bags, not one. One for you (Mama) and one for the baby. This way, when someone else is rummaging around your things looking for the all important something that you’ve just requested, they will have a slightly better chance of getting hold of it pronto.
Ok, so what is needed in this bag? What do I think is all important? Well, let me tell you first of all that my bag (which is packed and ready, patiently waiting for it’s shining moment!) has been packed very differently to how it was when I had Ivy. When I had Ivy, I was clueless as to what I needed. Sure, I asked people and googled countless lists…but if you packed all the suggestions and for every possible scenario, well you’d need more than a small bag, in fact you’d probably struggle to fit it all in a 20kg suitcase.
I would suggest, that you pack you’re bag anticipating at least a two night hospital stay. You may be lucky and get sent home sooner than this, or you may, like me, end up having to stay a lot longer. But my main advice here is that if you do have to stay longer, chances are your birth partner won’t be able to stay. Therefore they can be sent home with a list of all the things you need them to bring for the next day. When I had Ivy, Rob actually ended up taking home all sorts out of my bag and swapping it for the things I actually needed but hadn’t packed, as well as extras!
So here goes…’My 10 Hospital Bag Must Haves’ (for Mama)
- Labour Outfit This will be dependent on your birth plan and what you are hoping for. You may also find this doubles up with something else already on the list…WINNING! Personally I am hoping for a water birth, therefore I have packed a plain black simple bikini top to wear in the pool. Now anything could happen and there is a a high chance I’ll just jump in starkers- but good to have the option, should I suddenly feel prudish.
- Dressing Gown Always a handy item to have to hand. I actually wore a dressing gown for my labour with Ivy and it was perfect. Rob then whipped it away ASAP, got it home and cleaned up ready to bring back to hospital as he knew I’d want it again. Amazing!
- Big Knickers (at least 3 pairs) Regardless of the type of birth you have, Big Knickers are not just for C-Section mamas. This was something I didn’t pack when I had Ivy, and I had to send my mum out to the shops as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how you have brought your little bundle of joy into the world, no one is going to want to wear anything tight, low fitting and uncomfortable. Bridget Jones all the way!
- Tena Lady Pants/Maternity Pads I have both of these packed. If you haven’t heard of Tena Lady pants, they are essentially incontinence pants that look like a huge adult sized nappies. These are amazing and I highly recommend them. No need for knickers and worrying about pads, just stick on a pair of these and when you need to change them, you just tear down the sides and stick them in the bin like you would a pad. They are also really big and pull up high over any scars that you may have acquired. The pads are then for when you transition back to knickers (another reason for wanting BIG knickers- maternity pads are HUGE!)
- Wash Bag, including flip flops Chances are, you’re going to want a really good wash pretty soon after having your baby. My wash bag includes: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, sponge and flip flops. Nothing fancy or over the top and in a hope to save space I have purchased minis.
- Nipple Cream Absolutely essential for anyone planning on breastfeeding. I recommend ‘Lansinoh Lanolin’ as it works a dream and doesn’t need to be removed before baby latches as it is completely safe for both mum and baby.
- Breast Pads Whether you are breastfeeding or not, you’re going to find yourself leaking milk and in need of breast pads. If you are planning to breastfeed then I recommend investing in some re-usable ones. I always found them much more comfortable and they stay in place well. When they need changing you just put them through the washing machine and they are good as new again. I have opted for ‘Curve’ breast pads.
- Nursing Bra/Vests These will again depend on your feeding choices. If you are planning on breastfeeding then easy access clothing is going to help you hugely. The last thing you want when you have a hungry baby is a stressful outfit malfunction. I have listed both Bra and Vest as I found I quite often found myself with just one or the other on. Either a Nursing bra with a tee slipped over the top. Or no bra, and just a Vest- this for me was a comfier option as I love to be bra-less.
- Comfy Clothes and Slippers I don’t see the point in packing lovely clothes to wear after the birth of your baby. Give me a pair of sweatpants and a loose fitting jumper any day. I have just that packed, alongside a couple of plain maternity tee’s. These combined with the nursing vests will provide me with comfortable outfits for both night and day. Just switch around combinations as necessary. And the slippers are for walking around the ward in- if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to be up and moving as soon as possible. None of this stuff needs to be new or fancy in any way. But sometimes it’s nice (especially after having a baby) to have something new and clean to wear.
- Water bottle During my labour and for a fair while afterwards too (I’m talking weeks) I drank like a fish!!! So always handy to have a water bottle that you like to hand. I would recommend something that is easy to drink from. I personally like a sports cap.
A few Extras (Not necessary, but may be helpful):
- Phone charger
- Camera (with battery charged)
- Sweets- Great energy boost!
- Lavender oil- This can be used in all sorts of ways, but one way that has always been recommended to me, is to put a couple of drops in a jug of water, and pour it over yourself when you have that first pee.
- Arnica tablets- These help with healing
Baba’s bag is a little simpler, and much smaller….phew!
Here’s my must haves:
- 3 x Newborn outfits Pack these in individual sandwich bags, each bag should contain:
- Baby grow
The sandwich bags can be labelled up and make it easy for anyone (in my case, Rob) to find exactly what you require quickly. By having a whole set of what you will need in each it will save time and you always know you have everything you need for a full change.
- Spare Vests Again you can pack these in a sandwich bag. Should you need some different sizes for chances of a large/small baby etc.
- Blanket The hospital will usually provide blankets etc. for wrapping baby and keeping them warm, but it’s nice to have something that is yours for the baby. And you will likely want it for taking baby home when the time comes.
- Nappies You don’t need a huge amount. I’m packing just one bag of size 1’s and then have a few bags waiting at home. These can be easily purchased by anyone visiting should you run out due to a long stay.
- Cotton Wool For cleaning baby’s little bottom.
- Muslin cloths These are so handy for all sorts of different occasions. I have included 3 but have a whole pile at home that can be grabbed as necessary should more be needed.
Some people also like to include a ‘Going Home Outfit‘. For us we don’t feel it’s very important and will happily bring our baby home in one of the baby grows already packed. Depending on the weather at the time of birth, you may also want a warm ‘Snow Suit’ for the car journey home…but you may find your blanket is enough to do the job.
Last But Not Least…
You may want to have one last bag packed and ready in the car…but not for you, or for baby. This one is for your ‘Birth Partner‘. Quite often these things can happen over night or you may be in the hospital for long periods of time and it is likely that your Birth Partner will want to freshen up at some point. So in our case, Rob will have a spare set of underwear, a fresh t-shirt, deodorant and a toothbrush.
Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Anything you found completely invaluable?