Katie Hilton (Bsc, Msc) – Registered Midwife & Health Visitor
Many first time mothers often wonder what they will need to pack in their hospital bag for labour, delivery, and after the birth. Whilst it is of course exciting because you’re nearing the end of your nine month journey, there are of course a number of essentials to include. To help you decide what to pack we asked our Expert Midwife Katie Hilton to give you her top tips.
It is important to have your bag packed and ready to go by the time you reach 36 weeks pregnant, earlier if you are expecting twins. You may want to consider taking a couple of home comforts such as your own pillows, these will help you to sleep better, make you more comfortable and ensure you always have enough. Hospitals are notorious for their lack of pillows. You may also want to consider packing two separate bags; one for during labour and one for postnatal after your baby has been born. If you’re short on space at home then consider leaving your packed bags in the boot of your car ready for the journey to the hospital.
Packing for Labour
- Birth Plan
- Maternity Notes (often referred to as your green pregnancy notes)
- Dressing gown, useful if you end up walking the hospital corridors during early labour. You will also want this for the postnatal ward; lightweight would be best, as maternity wards often get very warm. Dark colours also hide any stains!
- Slippers or bed socks with grippable bottoms to ensure you don’t slip.
- Socks, many women complain of cold feet during labour.
- Old T-shirt or nightie to wear in labour, ideally something you can throw away afterwards.
- Massage oil, if you want your partner to massage your back during labour.
- Birthing ball, most hospitals will have these available but you may want to take in your own from home to ensure it is comfortable for you.
- Lip balm, your lips will often feel dry during labour, particularly if you decide to use gas & air.
- Food & drink, labour can be a slow process and often you will find yourself needing a snack and a drink. Isotonic sports drinks and good and glucose tablets will help give you an extra boost of energy.
- Books, magazines, tablet, basically anything to help you pass the time.
- Hairbands, you may want to tie your hair up out of way, particularly if you get warm.
- Hand held fan, women often become warm during labour, this can help to cool you down.
- Face cloth, for your partner to mop your brow
- TENS machine, if you are planning to use one take this with you. Learn how to use it beforehand.
- Music, take along either your phone, MP3 player or a CD player.
- Water spray, so you can be misted during labour!
Packing for your Partner
- Comfortable shoes, they may be walking the corridors with you so they need to be comfortable too!
- Change of clothes, they may be at the hospital with you for sometime and may want to change at some point.
- Toiletries, your partner may want to freshen up.
- Money and change for the hospital car park
- Swimwear, if you are planning to use a birthing pool they may want to join you.
- Phone and charger, they will want to be using their phone to time contractions and make those important calls after delivery to friends and family.
- List of phone numbers incase you can’t use your mobile phone.
- Camera, to take photos or a film of your first moments with your baby.
- Food and drink, you don’t want a dehydrated, hungry birth partner. Take along snacks and drinks so they don’t have to leave you to go in search of food!
Packing for after Delivery
- Going home outfit, you’ll need comfortable clothes to wear to go home. It will take some time for your tummy to go down to these will probably still be maternity clothes.
- Nursing bras, take along two or three.
- Breast pads
- Maternity pads, you’ll need quite a lot of these so take along a few packs
- Pyjamas or nightie, ideally something that opens at the front if you are planning on breastfeeding.
- Toiletries, try to go for travel size or decant into smaller bottles to save space.
- Towels, you might want to use your own soft towel instead of the towels the hospital supplies.
- Nipple cream, if your breastfeeding you might find them sore initially.
- Comfortable old knickers, big cotton kickers are best, they won’t rub your wound if you have a caesarean section and can be thrown away afterwards if needed.
- Eye mask and earplugs, maternity wards can be noisy with lots of light. These will help you to sleep.
Packing for your Baby
- Three sleepsuits
- Three vests
- Baby blanket, this will probably be used when you take your baby home
- Nappies, a newborn baby will go through roughly 12 a day so be sure to take enough for 2-3 days stay in hospital
- Muslin squares, useful for mopping up any dribbles or milk that comes back up.
- Booties, one pair should be enough
- Two hats
- Scratch mittens, newborn babies have unusually sharp nails!
- Fold up changing mat or towel
- Small pack of baby wipes, to help clean up messes and spills
- Cotton wool, for wiping that sensitive baby bottom!
- Going home outfit, all in one stretchy outfits are the easiest
- Jacket or snowsuit, particularly useful in the winter months but be sure to remove before your baby goes in the car seat
- Car seat, some hospitals won’t let you leave without one.