By the time you’re around 34 or 35 weeks pregnant, it’s a good idea to have a bag packed ready just in case you go into labour, which of course could be at very short notice! It’s important to have everything you’ll need in your bag ready to go, so that you can be comfortable during your stay in hospital and you’re not worrying about rushing around should you start your labour unexpectedly. It’s also a good idea to get your birth partner involved in packing your bag, so they can help remind you of anything you may have forgotten. They may wish to add some overnight things too, and will also need to know where your bag is (near the front door perhaps) so they can grab it for you in a hurry.
But what should you actually pack in it? It’s worth knowing that different hospitals have different policies about what you’re allowed to bring with you so it might be an idea to check with them if you’re not sure. Besides the essentials, it’s also nice to have a few items with you from home like your own pillow and face towel to make your experience more comfy. Don’t forget space in hospital can be limited though! Why not use this checklist as a guide to get you started.
Packing for labour:
You’ll need your birth plan and maternity notes as well as:
- An old nightie or long t-shirt
- Slippers and socks for your feet. Backless slippers are ideal
- Massage oil and lip balm
- A V-shaped pillow for extra support, as well as your usual pillow from home
- A dressing gown for walking around during labour if you need to
- Anything to help you relax and pass time between contractions, like a book, tablet or an MP3 player with your favourite music on
- Your TENs machine if you have one
- A hairbrush and clips or ties if your hair is longer
Packing for a birth partner
It’s handy if your birth partner has some things with them so they can stay with you for longer, or perhaps overnight. If you’re going to the hospital by car, they could leave their bag in the boot so they can pop out for it when ready. They may want to pack:
- Water spray or a hand-held fan to help you if you get too hot during labour
- Comfortable shoes
- A couple of fresh tops, underwear and trousers
- Swimwear if you’re planning a water birth
- Mobile phone and charger. The last thing you’ll both need is a flat battery! Not only will your partner likely want to keep friends and family updated on your progress, they can also use an app or the phone’s timer function to time your contractions too. Plus of course you can use the phone to take photos!
- Snacks and drinks. By having food and drink to hand, they can stay with you rather than trying to find the hospital shop or canteen when they’re hungry or thirsty. And of course, you’ll need to keep your strength up too!
After the birth
Once you’ve had your baby, you may spend a little extra time in hospital whilst they check you and your baby over and prepare you to leave with your new arrival. You’ll likely find it helpful to have:
- Loose, comfortable clothing for the rest of your stay and to go home in
- A fresh nightie or pyjamas
- A couple of nursing bras and plenty of clean underwear (old or disposable ones are a good idea)
- Toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant and moisturising cream
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and hair brush
- Breast pads and maternity pads (two or three packs of each would be ideal)
- An eye mask and/or some earplugs as wards have bright lighting and can be very noisy so you may need them to help you sleep
And for your baby…
- Three or four vests and sleepsuits
- An outfit to go home in
- A baby blanket in case it’s cold outside when you go (or a snowsuit if it’s winter time)
- Some socks or booties
- Clean cloths or muslin squares for if your baby brings up their milk
- A couple of large packs of nappies
- A car seat. The law says your baby must be properly secured and many hospitals won’t let you leave without one
Now your bag is packed and you’re all ready to go, all you need to do now is relax and wait for the big day to arrive!