When it comes to packing your hospital bag, preparation is everything. After all, you don't want to be caught without a bag in case your baby decides to show up early!
We spoke to parenting expert Anya Hayes to get the details on what you should be packing for you, for your partner and for your baby, to make sure you’re prepared in advance with everything you need.
Hospital bag checklist:
9) Pillows and pillow cases
It’s comforting to have something that makes you feel relaxed as if you’re in your own home. It’ll allow you to soften into your labour if you don’t feel like you’re in a totally unfamiliar environment.
Bringing your pregnancy pillow can also provide extra comfort when you need it. If you don't yet have a pregnancy pillow, check out our guide on them here
to see if they are for you.
Many mums told us the gas and air left a horrible taste in their mouths, so a pack of polos could be a good addition to your hospital bag.
Giovanna Fletcher also packed mint essential oil
for her third birthing experience, simply applying to a tissue and keeping it nearby, to give a refreshing lift when needed.
Top tips when packing your hospital bag:
1) Use it as part of your ‘nesting process’
“Packing your hospital bag – or ‘birthing bag’ if you’re planning on a home birth, it’s still good to have all your gear ready and available somewhere – can be a wonderful part of the nesting process, allowing you to positively visualise what is shortly going to be happening,” says Hayes. “It’s a ritual to get you into the mindset for your impending motherhood. It’s a great way of channelling your organising instincts, and allowing any jitters a space to calm.”
Hayes recommends first gathering together and laying out all of the things in your hospital bag list that you want to pack. “You can pack the bag yourself if it helps you in terms of nesting and ritual,” she says. “But then, unpack and get your birth partner to pack the bag. They are the ones who will be unpacking it to find things while you’re otherwise engaged during your labour, or lying in bed with your newborn. It’s useful and less stressful for everyone if they have an awareness of what and where on earth it all is.”
3) Get organised!
She also recommends having one maternity hospital bag for your own birthing and postnatal things, and another just for the baby, to make it easier for rummaging purposes. But if you don't manage to get all these items, don't worry.
“Don’t fret too much about the hospital bag,” Hayes adds. “We live in the modern world, so you can always get someone to nip out and buy things you’ve forgotten if you need them.
“It’s more a good nesting ritual to help you to visualise bringing your newborn into the world. Always try to get into a calm mindset when you think about packing it, and never worry about not having something that you hear is ‘essential’.”
Whoever will be with you on the day, be it your other half, relative, friend or other, they may wish to prepare a few things to bring as well. The highlights are below, or check out our full list of suggestions here.
- Give your birth partner the responsibility of preparing a birthing music playlist. Most delivery rooms will allow you to play your own music which can really make a difference. Anything that soothes your soul, have it to hand: playlists that make you happy and that you associate with good memories and times where you felt supported, loved and safe.
- An iPad loaded with films and box sets, as labour can be tedious.
- Books and newspapers to read during any times where there might be a lull in action.
- TENS machine, if you’re using one: practise how to put it on first, as you don’t want any fiddling around with the pads while you actually could do with reaping the benefits.
- Snacks and drinks: it can be tricky for a birth partner because they might feel they don’t “deserve” any time off to go out and refuel if you’ve been in hospital for a while. Have a stash of nibbles. Click here for some suggestions.
- Make sure you remember to pack a toothbrush and some toothpaste so you can both freshen up if you’re in hospital for a while.
- Your birth partner may well need a fresh pair of pants and a change of T-shirt if your home isn’t on an easy trip from the hospital. We tend to forget about birth partners but they’re less likely to be allowed to have a shower and so on, so even packing some deodorant – that you can both use – will mean that you’re slightly more prepared for an extended stay in hospital.
- You'll see a lot of activity on your phone, with texts and calls from excited and anxious family and friends waiting for the big news. While you both might have your phones in your pocket or bag, don’t forget to pack a charger so the battery has plenty of juice for the huge announcement!
- We rely so much on our phones for cameras these days, but don’t take any chances and pack a camera to record your baby’s precious first moments in the world.
The 15 best snacks for labour to pack in your hospital bag
We asked M&B mums to tell us their go-to snack for labour and their answers didn't disappoint! From Jaffa Cakes to hard-boiled sweets check out all the labour snack ideas, here.
Make life easy! Print off our handy checklist now:
You can now create a Baby Wish List on Amazon! Just launched, the new Amazon Baby Wish List allows you to keep track of all your shopping ideas in one place. Pretty handy if you're planning your new baby essentials shopping list, giving friends and family gift ideas, or planning for your baby shower. Read about the launch here.
Make sure you're following Mother & Baby on Instagram for relatable memes, inspiring stories and parenting hacks!