Have you started packing your hospital labour bag yet? Whether you’re planning to have your baby at home, in hospital or at a midwifery unit, you should get a few things ready at least two weeks before your due date. If you are wondering what to pack, have a look at this list. I’ve also included a list of essentials, as well as labour bag extras, for things that aren’t essential but are a great idea.
If you want, pack two bags: one for labour and the hours immediately after your baby is born, and another for a stay on the postnatal ward.
If you’re driving to hospital, you could leave the second bag in the car. If you have a straightforward birth, you may leave hospital on the same day and not need the second bag at all.
Hospitals vary in their policies about what you are allowed to bring with you when you have your baby. You may want to take a few items from home, such as your own pillows, to make the environment more personal
What should I pack for labour?
- Hospital notes and birth plan
- Two long T-shirts or old nightdresses to wear for labour (front opening is a good idea so you can feed your baby without fuss), make sure it’s something loose and comfortable to wear during labour that doesn’t restrict you from moving around or make you too hot – you may need about three changes of clothes.
- Socks (cold feet are a common complaint)
- Slippers – slip on pair as you may find uncomfortable to bend down after the birth.
- A lightweight dressing gown – This will be useful if you end up pacing hospital corridors in early labour. You’ll also need one on the postnatal ward. Hospitals can be very warm, so a lightweight one may be better. A dark colour or a busy pattern will help to hide any stains.
- Lip balm to prevent dry lips in labour (another common complaint)
- Cool-water spray
- Hairbands and clips
- Cartons of juice or bottles of water
- Glucose tablets for energy
- Healthy snacks
- Tens machine – if you have decided to use one
- Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during your labour.
- Birth ball. This can help you to labour effectively. Check whether the hospital has the right size for you. If not, take your own. Remember to bring a pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you.
- A portable battery-operated stereo/radio player and tapes or CDs or MP3 player (if you want them for the birth) plus spare batteries
- A few books/magazines/games for both of you
- Pen and paper
What should my birth partner pack?
- A change of clothes. Your birth partner might not get the chance to have a shower for quite a while!
- Swimwear if they want to join you in a birth pool.
- A phonecard (some hospitals prefer mobile phone use to be restricted to outside the building)
- Your address book
- Some loose change (about £10 should be enough)
- A camera and spare batteries (and film if it’s not digital)
- A camcorder (if allowed) and film/batteries
- A mobile phone (some hospitals allow them to be used in corridors, or you could always take it outside) plus phone charger.
- Snacks and drinks. You don’t want a dehydrated, hungry birth partner looking after you. If they bring some snacks and drinks with them, they can stay with you, rather than leaving the room to search for food!
- A pillow, blanket, in case he or she’s in for an overnight stay
- Comfortable shoes for pacing the corridors
What shall I pack for my baby?
- A pack of newborn nappies
- A pack of cotton wool balls for nappy changes
- A towel
- Six stretch sleepsuits
- Six vests
- A cardigan
- Blanket (plus coat if it’s winter)
- A few muslin cloths
- A pack of disposable bibs or six cloth bibs
- Nappy rash cream
What shall I pack for after the birth?
- A nice pair of pyjamas, two piece if you intend on feeding. So that you look and feel nice especially if you are expecting visitors post birth.
- Disposable pants (7-10 pairs) or big girl panties would be the most comfortable if you end up having a caesarean, as they won’t rub your wound Choose darker colours if you are worried about leaks
- Maternity sanitary pads (two packs of 10 or 12)
- Nursing bra and breast pads
- A V-shaped pillow can give you extra support when breastfeeding your baby
- Toiletries, unperfumed shower/bath wash, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, etc
- Spare toothbrush and paste (so you can pack it in advance)
- Hairbrush and towel
- Hairdyer – Not only to dry your hair, but if your hairdryer has a low setting, you can use it to carefully and lightly dry your vulva after a shower. This may be particularly appealing if you’ve had stitches and you don’t want to rub the area with a towel.
- Make-up and remover
- Arnica cream. Although there’s no conclusive evidence that it works, some women report that arnica cream helps to reduce bruising and helps the healing process. Don’t apply the cream to broken skin.
- Extras Toilet paper It’s a great idea to pack your own, extra soft toilet paper. It is bad enough going to the toilet somewhere with terrible toilet paper, but after you’ve had a baby, you’ll appreciate the extra softness
- Laundry bag for dirty clothes
- A gift for your older child if you have one (to make him/her feel special too)
- A going-home outfit. You’ll need loose comfortable clothes to wear while you’re in hospital and for the journey home. It will take a while for your tummy to go down, so you’ll probably still need your maternity clothes when you get home.