One question that is on the mind of every woman as her due date gets nearer is what to pack in her hospital bag? Giving birth can be as unpredictable as the weather and often you don’t know if you’ll be out and back in your own bed in 6 hours, or staying in for a few days so it’s best to always be prepared!
We’ve spoken to new mums who have given us their top tips on what really helped them and what they found useful to have in their maternity hospital bag. We know that in the pre-birth excitement you can often feel confused about what you really need to take with you so our comprehensive Femette hospital bag checklist looks at the pregnancy hospital bag ‘must-haves’ that will help you through labour and birth.
When do you need to pack your hospital bag?
Firstly when should you pack your hospital bag? Much of this depends on your character – if you are a planner you probably have a neatly packed suitcase waiting by your front door right now, and if you are a bit more spontaneous you might only start packing at the first contraction! However we recommend that you have your bag packed and ready by the time you are 35 weeks pregnant as sometimes babies can put in an early appearance, and it’s great to be set and ready to go when you go into labour.
The definitive hospital bag checklist! – What to pack in your hospital bag
So you have your case open and ready – what do you need to put in? Here are our suggestions for what to pack in your hospital bag so that you are prepared for delivery and a post birth stay if necessary:
- Comfy Clothing
You might be staying in hospital for a while and so you need to make sure you pack enough clothes in your maternity hospital bag to last you a few days. Hospital gowns are hardly haute couture so bring your own night-dresses and pyjamas. Remember that after giving birth your intimate areas may be feeling sore as most women experience some vaginal trauma, but particularly if you have had an episiotomy so big comfortable ‘granny knickers’ are a must! If you are having a C-section or think that one is likely then you will have stitches and you don’t want anything tight around your waist so pick soft loose materials and clothes which are comfy and easy to wear. If you are breastfeeding remember to bring some breastfeeding tops and a maternity bra too for easy access!
- Food and Drink
With the average first time labour lasting 16 hours you may be in for a long wait, especially if you are having an induction so you’ll need to keep your energy up. Hospital food is not known for being too tasty so when you are considering what to pack in your hospital bag then bring your own healthy snacks with you. Popcorn, fruit and dark chocolate are all great energy boosters – and have plenty of mineral water to drink too as it’s important not to get de-hydrated and hospitals can be very hot. Midwifes recommend isotonic drinks such as Lucozade and snacks such as Mars bars during labour for quick energy boots. We’ve even heard new mums tell us they have brought a thermos flask with tea in so that they can have a relaxing cuppa (made just how they like it) when the little one is here!
- Music, Books and Entertainment
Whilst you are probably not going to be reading War and Peace whilst giving birth often there can be long periods of waiting around. Contractions can stop and start and if you are in for an induction or C-section you may find yourself spending lots of time just waiting. There’s nothing guaranteed to make you more nervous than time on your hands so keep occupied with a good book or film and make sure you pop your favourites into your hospital bag for delivery. Lots of women find music can really help them to relax in labour so download some calming music onto your iPod. You can even buy special CD’s designed especially for birthing.
Don’t forget the camera phone – it is great for taking those first snaps of your bundle of joy, and to share with loved ones.
There’s nothing worse than feeling grubby so toiletries should always be on your hospital bag list. Whilst a full on make-up bag isn’t needed (although we know some women like to bring it!) make sure you have toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and shower gel. Facial wipes are a great timesaver and a facial water spray is ideal for hot hospital rooms and for cooling you down during labour. You can get a great range of ‘mini’ travel size toiletries now and we recommend you pick up a selection of these to save room in your pregnancy hospital bag. It is good to know most hospitals won’t provide towels – some women may need to bring their own.
- Birthing Aides
Every women differs in how they plan to give birth so what you choose to pack in your hospital bag to support you during labour can be as individual as you are – but lots of new mums have told us that the following items have helped them in labour:
- A birthing ball, these are great for sitting on to help induce labour and to help keep you moving during labour which has been proven to help shorten the time it takes to give birth.
- A Tens Machine. These clever gadgets provide drug-free pain relief by using an electric current to stimulate your nerves. You can buy them but they are quite expensive so many women like to hire them for the birth period which is often more cost effective (unless you are planning on having lots of children!).
- A wheat pillow or hot water bottle. Heat can often soothe labour pains and a hot wheat pillow or hot water bottle can be a comfort to many women in labour.
- Essential oils such as Lavender are ideal for your partner to give you a foot massage in the early stages or labour and the aromas can help to relax you and prepare your body for birth. But please check this is OK with the Mid-Wife first.
- The Necessities
These not the most exciting things to consider when you are wondering what to pack in your hospital bag but they are the things that you might find help you the most on your hospital bag list! Yes it’s the practical post birth necessities that most new mums swear by and you’ll be glad you packed them! Firstly after you give birth whether naturally or by C-section you will find that you bleed heavily so maternity pads and large knickers or even disposable maternity knickers are a must have. If you are breastfeeding your boobs will suddenly take on a starring role so be prepared with nipple cream for sore nipples and breast pads to help with any leaking that may occur. You will also find that you experience lochia (post birth bleeding) after labour so a practical and discrete Femette, which has been named as one of the top 10 best new baby gadgets is the ideal way to make sure that you still feel fresh and clean in your imitate areas.
The Femette will help keep you imitate area clean, aid the healing process and help prevent infection from those post birth traumas such as labial or vaginal graze which can be very nasty or urethral and clitoral tears.
- A Hospital Bag For Baby
There’s one of you going in to hospital but there will be two of you coming out so you need to bring along a baby hospital bag too! You will need to pack a few outfits for your baby and include vest, hats and socks. Although the hospital will provide blankets many mums like to bring their own blanket for wrapping their newborn in. You’ll also need nappies (lots of them!) and baby wipes and a barrier nappy cream such as Sudocrem. Lots of mums also tell us that they like to bring along a little first toy for their baby to have with them in their cot too!
Last but definitely not least it is advised you do a dry run so that you understand the parking system that the hospital use. Although if you have your scans in the same hospital you will already have this sorted. Parking can be very expensive so please ensure you have enough change to last a couple of days.
Although many mothers will be able to pay using the mobile and will have this already set up from the dry run.
Any spare change will come in handy for vending machines too.
So we think that our hospital bag checklist should fill your hospital bag full of the things you really need when giving birth! Once you’re organised for the birth then you can relax and enjoy the last month of pregnancy! If you have any other ideas or recommendations for what to pack in your hospital bag then just email us or let us know your suggestions on social media – we’d love to hear from you!