Packing your hospital bag for labour can be really quite daunting because you just don’t know how long you will be admitted for. It’s best to overpack if you’re partner is going to find it particularly difficult to get things to and from the hospital, like mine will, as he can’t drive. I am planning for a home birth so I am putting together two little birth packs so to speak. One is a little box of things to help me labour at home for as long as possible hopefully progressing to birth at home and one is a bag for hospital just in case I do need to transfer through. As I said in my birth plan post I like to be prepared so having a bag ready to go should I need it is really helping to prepare for all kinds of situations.
It isn’t really that long now with a due date of 21st September. We still have bits and pieces we need to get of course but I am starting to feel prepared and he has a good amount of clothes that should at least last him the first week of his life. We are not really looking to go anywhere and with the weather getting cooler he will mostly be in sleepsuits anyway. The biggest expense I have struggled with is the right size nursing bras as I plan to breastfeed. I’m so top heavy and it’s one thing I am really struggling to find in my size that isn’t at least £60. I just can’t justify that cost when you need a couple of nursing bras and then one or two to sleep in. I’m saving money with reusable wipes and cloth nappies and have a good collection of those which is good. I also want to make a list of things to keep stocked up in the fridge that can easily be squeezed into our hospital bag should we need to transfer over.
I was actually amazed to find you could buy prepacked maternity and hospital bags which is a great thing to do and takes the stress out of preparing and packing one.
Here are my recommendations for things to consider packing in your own hospital bag or home birth box. Obviously you want to have your maternity notes in your bag ready to go and your birth plan right at the front.
Hospital Bag or Home Birth Box items
- TENS machine – We have the Babycare Elle TENS2 Machine. I used one in my previous labour and it really, really helped to take the edge off. Obviously you can’t use it in the pool but it’s so great to have so many different options in Labour and I think the more natural remedies I can use to help me cope with the pain, the better. If you don’t want to buy a TENS machine there are plenty of options to hire them as well which gives you lots of flexibility.
- Favourite scents or essential oils – essential oils can be really powerful in labour and favourite scents can really transform an environment for a better birthing experience
- Hair bands
- Face cooling spray
- Eye Mask
- Tealights/Fairy lights (Loads of battery operated ones around, think dimly lit and intimate)
- Hot water bottle & cover or heat bag
- Hypnobirthing tracks/MP3
- A birth pool
Food & Drink in Labour
I want freedom of movement in labour as well as being able to eat and drink when I want so having some of my favourite snacks will be great. You probably won’t want to consume huge meals, even if you’re at home, so think about high protein and high energy snacks you can have on hand to help keep those energy levels up. Some good ideas are:
- Coconut water/Isotonic/Electrolyte drinks
- Glucose tablets
- Honey – a spoonful of this can do wonders, apparently
- Your favourite sweets
- Flapjacks or ceral bars
- Bananas or your favourite fruit
- Soup – particularly in the really early stages of labour
- Squash – great if you’re getting bored of water. Staying hydrated is really, really important
- Pop grapes in the freezer or make fruit puree ice cubes
- Ice pops/Ice lollies
- Your favourite tea bags – because that cuppa post birth needs to be the best you’ve ever had
Hospital Bag Items for Mums
For this you want to thing of when you’re in labour and post natal. Think about things that you might need at home so that your partner can get these to you easily and if you’re transferred to hospital or if you need to stay a few nights. Even though money can sometimes be a bit tight do get yourself things you like that will make you feel comforted and excited. Having your baby will fill you with joy and then just having those few nice new extras post birth can give you an extra little boost.
- Dark coloured PJ’s – easy to open at the front if breastfeeding. Remember you will still be a bit bumpy and mishapen so think maternity PJ’s rather than you’re regular size.
- Dark coloured towel
- Maternity pads – pop a few drops of witch hazel and aloe on them, wrap them back up and pop in the freezer if you’re at home. The cooling sensation can really help if you’ve had any tears and feeling a bit bruised and swollen.
- Spritz for Bits – I’ve not used this before but heard it can work wonders so I’ll be getting some – you can spray this on your maternity pads to keep things feeling cool and help with soreness instead of using oils/aloe gel
- Small jug for pouring when you pop to the loo (or wee in the bath!) apparently the water dilutes the acidity in the urine which is what causes the sting. It should only last a couple of days but apparently leaning forward and using a jug of lukewarm water can really help.
- Flipflops – for getting in/out the pool and using communal showers. Shoes that are nice and easy to slip on are particularly good if you have a c-section because you wont want to be bending
- A pillow or small blanket from home if you’re in hospital
- Something to wear in labour, a big baggy t-shirt works well
- Big, black over the tummy knickers – again, if you have a c-section you want something nice and high, away from the wound and stiches
- Going home outfit – again, think maternity. Comfortable leggings and a nice top.
- Clean Toiletries and a flannel – avoid using a shower puff with stiches
- A little bit of makeup and a good moisturiser – because you are allowed to make yourself look nice and feel good after having a baby – if you want! If not, a nice face wash and moisturiser can really help make you feel fresh again.
- Breast pads
- Nursing bras
- Nipple Cream/Balm – this is also great for chapped lips which might happen if you use gas and air. I have the Kit & Kin Breast Balm packed in my bag ready to go!
- Phone charger. I have a portable one which I’ll be packing just in case for my hypnobirthing tracks and relaxing music playlist
- Car park/Hospital room TV change
Hospital Bag Items for Partners
Dads or partners can sometimes get a bit left out but they might need a few bits and pieces too, especially if you’re going to be in hospital for a long time. Here are a few things dads can pack for themselves.
- Change of clothes – if your partner wants to be in the water you might get a bit wet. Plus, babies are messy. Having a spare top to refresh yourself after labour and birth will do you some good – as will the cooling face spray if you get overly warm
- Energy drinks to keep you going or at least some decent tea or coffee
- A book – the early stages of labour can be quite boring and if you’re partner is in the zone with an eye mask and doesn’t really ‘need’ you at that point, you might aswell have something to read
- Your favourite snacks/sweets because you need to eat too!
Hospital Bag Items for Babies
Babies don’t really need a lot of stuff so you can leave things like teddies and comforters at home however babies also make a lot of mess and you might not know how long you need to be in hospital for so always consider a few of each thing. We have packed our changing bag for the things the baby will need:
- Small bag of newborn nappies – we are using the Kit & Kin eco-friendly disposables. If you’re using reusables from day one TotsBots TeenyFit STAR all in ones are perfect for babies under 9lbs but they do fit up to 12lbs.
- Baby Wipes – again we are using the Biodegradable Kit & Kin wipes. Aqua Wipes are another great option if you want biodegradable wipes.
- Going home outfit – something cosy
- Car seat
- Muslin Cloths
- Bottle feeding – you will need premixed formula bottles. It’s recommended to have at least six bottles but if you’re anticipating a longer stay in hospital you might want to consider having extra just in case.
- A dummy/pacifier if you’re planning on using one.
What did you pack in your hospital bag? Are there any other essentials you would recommend?