It goes without saying that every mum-to-be stresses over the actual labour part of pregnancy. There are so many if’s, but’s and unknowns. Bizarrely, one of the things that was stressing me out the most was the hospital bag, and what I needed to take with me for my labour.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a light packer and someone who can make a backpack of essentials last for a 3-week Far-East expedition. I’m also a firm believer in ‘don’t stress, if you don’t have it with you, you can buy it there.’
Suddenly (and probably due to my lack of control on all other elements), I needed to know exactly what to pack and make sure I had everything needed for me and my unborn.
For all the mum’s-to-be who love a checklist and want to know what to pack, here’s my list of hospital essentials. Including items packed that I didn’t use.
Click here to download our simple hospital bag checklist.
- Skincare essentials: I recommend the Tropic Skincare Discovery Kit – it’s a perfectly sized travel kit which is light, natural and incredibly refreshing – much needed after a sweaty labour and night in hospital. This also includes a flannel cloth and a travel bag great for storing your other toiletries.
- Face Wipes
- Toothbrush and paste
- Shower Gel and body creams: I recommend going for something light, natural and unscented to prevent any irritation to baby during that skin on skin time.
- Nipple cream: I recommend Lansinoh, which was a God-send for me, especially as my baby was tongue tied and so didn’t latch properly at the beginning. The nipple barrier cream really helped to reduced that awful sucking sensation while allowing me to continue my attempt at breast-feeding.
- Spritz for Bitz: Another can’t live without essential – this magic spray is great for helping with swelling and pain if you have a natural birth, and can also be applied to the c-section scar during healing. I recommend storing in the fridge for extra soothing effect – a real treat for mums!
- Maternity Towels: we’ve all heard the horror stories about the post-pregnancy period, and it’s true, especially in the first couple of days. these are a must have!
- Breast Pads: I used Tommee Tippee disposable pads. I took them in my hospital bag with me, but didn’t produce milk while in hospital so didn’t end up using them until the following few days. I’m on day 14 of motherhood and have used up my first pack and ordered a second!
- Make-Up and hair brush: I know that some people don’t agree with this level of vanity, but I needed this to feel more ‘me.’ While I packed my entire make up bag, I ended up using a light foundation, concealer and bronzer on my dispatch day. I also recommend packing some hair grips – mine ended up being plaited for the duration.
- Flip Flops or slippers: you’ll thank me when trawling back and forth to the loo at night.
- Large, elasticated panties: seriously, forget the glamour here. You need big, stretchy Bridget’s to get you through, especially if you have a c-section where you won’t want anything close to the scar! Four pairs should be enough.
- Night-shirts: I found the perfect night shirts in Primark. They were £10 each and were button down on the front – which was amazing for skin-to-skin and breast feeding. They have also been a dream since. If the Primark ones aren’t available, I’d recommend sizing up and going for a shirt that buttons all the way through for easy access. Boohoo have a great selection in the maternity range also. I took two but only wore one.
- Nursing Bra: I spent most of my time in hospital bra-less – until going home time. At this point I used my Boohoo Maternity bra for comfort. Again – not sure you need it in your hospital bag, but definitely have used mine non-stop since – mainly for nights.
- Going home outfit: There are tons of recommendations for going home outfits. My advice would be something baggy, especially if you’ve had a c-section. I wore sized-up high waisted stretchy leggings and an oversized t-shirt with trainers. Note- you may still be wearing your DVT socks which are slightly harder to style! The main advice is comfortable and loose!
- Mixed Nuts or a slow-release non-perishable alternative
- Dried Mango: this was a personal craving of mine throughout pregnancy and worked really well for a light pick me up post birth – the majority of hospital food served can be quite heavy and stodgy.
- Snack Bars: I opted for a bunch of cereal and protein bars for pre, during and post labour.
- Coconut Water: Again, a healthy and slow-release pick me up to refresh throughout.
- Bottega Prosecco or a sparkling alternative to celebrate your efforts and the arrival of your teeny package.
- Phone charger: You will want to be on your phone for the duration of your stay in hospital. Especially if, like me, your partner is not able to stay with you due to Covid-19 restrictions. Please don’t forget to pack a charger, they are not available in hospital and you will regret not having one with you! Plus – you’ll be using your phone a bunch for all those adorable pictures.
- Tablet & charger (equipped with movies): I downloaded a bunch of movies and shows to my tablet before heading into hospital and found this really useful on two occasions; during pre-active labour, which was very slow and boring and on the ward post delivery when my partner had gone home and I wanted to zone out.
- Headphones – because other people probably don’t want to hear you watching reruns of Desperate Housewives for 6 hours!
- Bib: I packed four bibs and didn’t use any of them as baby hardly eats during the hospital say. I’d recommend taking a couple of multi-purpose muslins instead of bibs.
- Muslin: Next are great for new-born essentials and offer a great selection of muslin squares in a variety of different designs and colours. These have become an absolute staple item for us and we can’t get enough of them. I took four to the hospital and used two.
- Hat: The advice is to put baby in a hat during any transport between climates i.e. from the hospital to the car etc. The hospital will put a knitted hat on baby at birth, but chances are you’ll want to be in charge of the style of this (Aurora arrived in a stripy white and burgundy hat and resembled a Christmas Elf!) We’d purchased a first size hat from Next, which was super cute, but still a little big for her teeny head!
- Scratch mitts: Another Next purchase for us! We didn’t end up using these while in the hospital as her nails weren’t an issue, and all the baby grows that we’d purchased had built in scratch mitts – would recommend having these available at home, but not essential for your hospital bag.
- Baby Grow / Sleepsuit: We packed four sleep suits for our hospital visit and this worked perfectly for her 1 night stay. She wore one after birth, one for her first night, one for her second day and one for her journey home. I’d recommend purchasing a couple of sizes (our baby was much smaller than we expected and so everything swamped her) and go for the ones that have built in mitts. Again – Next do a great selection and is where we purchased ours, but you can also get a great range in most supermarkets.
- Vests / Body Suits: These are great for under sleepsuits, and come in a variety of patterns and designs – again we packed four, two vest style and two with short sleeves, both available from Marks & Spencer.
- Blanket: We have a bunch of these at home, and found that lots of early gifts from friends and family were baby blankets. Aurora’s favourite, and the one that we used at hospital was her fleece blanket from Amazon. We also took a spare cellular blanket in case it was warmer than expected (we gave birth right at the end of the Covid Heatwave!)
- Water wipes: Strangely there’s quite some controversy around wipes and cotton wool for new-borns. We purchased Water Wipes following a bunch of recommendations from friends and packed one pack in our hospital bag. These are super kind to baby skin – and have become an essential item for us since. Amazon offer a great subscription deal for extra savings!
- Cotton Wool: Everyone advised that I wouldn’t be able to get cotton wool in hospital and to pack this with me – I did, but didn’t use it.
- Newborn dummy and clip: Again, I packed these but didn’t use them. The advice in hospital is that if you’re breast feeding you shouldn’t use dummies. I still haven’t used ours yet, but plan to once those sleepless nights arrive!
- Nappies: We under packed nappies for our hospital visit, we had six in our bag and finished these on day one. Thankfully the hospital provided us with a Bounty pack which had additional nappies, but this was frowned upon! My recommendation – take the entire pack of nappies with you! Again, Amazon have some great subscription deals available.
- Formula: Again, we’d heard lots of different stories about the hospital’s approach to feeding. While it’s clear that breast is preferred, they won’t discharge you unless baby is feeding, and the hospital will provide formula where baby won’t take to the breast. If you know that you don’t want to breast feed though I’d recommend packing a couple of ready-made formula bottles, which can be given to baby straight from the bottle.
- Baby car-seat: For taking baby home!
PS. Why are you telling me this?
Hopefully this will provide some structure to your hospital bag packing. Please note that all links in this email are from my personal recommendations, none of the items mentioned here are endorsements or advertisments.