You’re counting down the days, the nursery is ready, the shelves are stocked with adorable clothes, but there’s one last must-do before you can really put your feet up before baby arrives: pack your hospital bag.You don’t want to be in a last minute rush and forget essentials, nor do you want to go completely overboard and end up packing way more than you need. That’s where having a checklist can come in handy.
I’ve put together my recommended checklists plus the tips below of what you’ll need to make sure you and baby have all the important and most helpful items to get you through labour, those post-partum days in hospital, and the journey home.
When to pack your hospital bag
If you’ve read about my experience with the unexpected early arrival of my second baby, then you’ll know that I suggest having your bags packed around 34 weeks gestation! It may feel early, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the unexpected. I wasn’t expecting to go into hospital so early, and was completely unprepared for a long stay in hospital when I did go in. At a time like this, having those small items that make you feel more like ‘you’ can be so significant.
Packing for Mum
Your personal toiletries and comfortable clothes should always be top of the list, with high-waisted underwear an absolute priority, whether you’re planning a c-section or not (you never know what might happen on the day - check out these tips on what to expect).
You’ll feel a hundred times better once you’ve had a chance to freshen up, wash your hair (or at least layer up some dry shampoo) and use your own skincare. It can help to transfer it to smaller bottles if necessary. Have maternity pads at hand, as well as nipple balm or hydrogel pads to take care of your boobies from the start.
Comfortable breastfeeding clothing, including breastfeeding pajamas and bras or singlets, will make all the difference, especially if you’re adjusting to feeding for the first time, while also facing visitors. A dressing gown, slippers and warm socks will also feel like a small but significant luxury! Remember you’ll need something comfortable to travel home in too.
You’ll see on the list below that I’ve included a breast pump and I often get asked if it is something to include in your hospital bag. While hopefully everything goes to plan, you never know whether you might face some challenges along the way, like I did. Even if you don’t have your breast pump in your bag with you, make sure you familiar with how to use it, in the event that you need to express straight away. Having your own pump to use will make the experience a lot less stressful and a lot more comfortable.
See the full packing checklist here
Packing for baby
That tiny new human needs a bit of stuff too. It’s time to pull out those tiny adorable onesies, beanies, socks and blankies! Outfits with easy diaper access are key, but include a ‘going home’ outfit to mark the occasion. Be sure to take a few size options for your wee babe - my first weighing in at 10pd 6oz by-passed the newborn outfits I packed and went straight into the 0-3mths, and his head was too big for a couple of beanies and I couldn't get him into a swaddle I packed!
Chuck in some burp cloths, wraps and a sleep swaddle. Have your capsule ready to go, with a cover or muslin, as well as a stretchy carrier for dad if you have one. Bottom balm, waterwipes and an oil for dry skin or massage will all help keep baby happy in the hospital, too.
See the full packing checklist here.
Packing for labour
Comfort reigns supreme here ladies. From your head (hair ties, headband), to your feet (socks and slippers). Choose an underwire-free nursing bra, comfortable clothes or breastfeeding friendly PJs to put on after your shower. I like to prep this bag separately so when the time comes, you can simply grab this bag, change into what you want to wear, and have a small bag of essentials with you in the delivery room - saves you or your partner digging around in your Mama Bag during labor!
Other handy things to have with you are a water bottle and snacks (for you and your support crew) to get you through, your phone so you can capture memories or listen to music throughout your labour, face wipes or face cloth and some lip balm.
If you’re planning on keeping the placenta, also take a suitable container with you.
See the full packing checklist here.
Being prepared will not only ensure you’ve got everything you need for your stay, but also help you feel a little more relaxed when it’s time to head to the hospital. Enjoy the process of packing your bag - it can be a good time for positive visualisation. Imagining the positive experience you’re about to go through and the joy of holding your newborn baby in your arms can help calm your nerves and push aside those birthing fears.
So print off the checklist and get packing!