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What To Pack In A Hospital Bag

Packing a bag is part of the build up to your baby’s due date. Knowing you have what you need ready and waiting will help you and your birth partner feel prepared for the big day.

It can be really hard to know what you really ‘need’ in your bag. There is a lot of information out there and the list can seem never ending.

Most people start to gather things together for their ‘hospital bag’ in the last three or four weeks of pregnancy.

If you have had an early labour before, or if your midwife advises it, you might want to get organised earlier.

It can be tempting to take along everything including the kitchen sink. It is best to avoid this.

  • You may not have much room at the hospital and the staff need to be able to get to you easily.
  • You may have to move to different parts of the hospital – sometimes quickly.
  • Things can get lost. If you have too much it can be harder to find the very thing you do want.

It can help to divide up your packing into two bags. If you have a birth partner who will be able to get ‘bag number two’ easily for you – pack one for labour and delivery and one for after baby arrives.

It is always important to have;

  • Your maternity notes
  • A copy of your birth plan if you have one.
  • Think about being comfy;

    • What would you like to wear? – think old and loose for labour. Something comfy to go home in.
    • Do you have a favourite pillow? Make sure if you take one to hospital it has a colourful pillow case so that is doesn’t get mixed up.
    • Socks for cold feet. Flannels for cooling heads.
    • Slippers or flip flops and a lightweight dressing gown if you have one.
    • ‘Easy Access’ nightwear, bras and tops to breastfeed.
    • Drinks bottle (easier than a cup).
    • Lip salve to stop dry lips getting sore.
    • BIG old (or disposable) pants.

    You will want to freshen up during and after labour;

    • Toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant.
    • Make up if it is important you.
    • Hair bits - hairbrush, hairbands or clips.
    • Giving birth is a ‘leaky’ business in the early days after delivery. You will need maternity pads because it is normal to bleed (like a very heavy period) after baby arrives. You will need a couple of packs to start with.
    • You will need breast pads for leaky breasts whether you breastfeed or not (buy more if you are going to breastfeed).
  • Packing for your baby is exciting – thinking about how soon you will be dressing your baby in the things you have got ready for them.

    • Pack a few Babygro’s and vests. Newborn clothes vary in size – which is good because so do babies! Take a couple of the smallest and a couple of the biggest you have.
    • Pack some baby clothes in your labour bag and some in your ‘after labour bag.’
    • Go for layers so that you can judge what your baby needs according to how warm they feel. Add in some hats and socks.
    • Take a couple of honeycomb blankets and bibs / muslin.
    • Lots of people like to have a special coming home outfit for the baby – but you don’t have to!

    You will need to take nappies for baby and cotton wool for bottom wiping (baby wipes can make sensitive new born skin sore).

    If you are going to formula feed you will need ready made formula bottles to use during your hospital stay. They are quite expensive so you may want to buy them over the last couple of months of pregnancy.

  • Make a plan for how you will get to and from hospital.

    If you need to organise a lift make sure they realise it could be day or night when you need them. Have a reserve person on stand-by just in case!

    You may need money for a taxi home or for car parking. If money is tight try and save this over the last weeks of pregnancy.

    Remember your car seat - and practice how to fit it a few times.

  • Labour can be long. Think about what you could take to pass the time for you and your birth partner. This could just be your phone and a book or a magazine or some people like to watch TV on a tablet.

    Try and always think about other people in beds and rooms near you. Keep the volume down or use headphones as much as possible.

    Don’t forget your chargers – you will need that phone for the first pictures of you and your new family.

    Take some snacks and drinks for you and your birth partner. (If you are the one in labour check with the staff on delivery floor if you are ok to eat and drink before you tuck in!). Avoid things that smell strong – it might make you feel a bit sick.

  • Even if you are planning a home birth it is a good idea to have a 'hospital bag’.

    • It is always easier to have the things you might want and need in labour and afterwards all in one place
    • You won’t have to explain where people can find what you want when you are in the middle of labour
    • If you need to transfer into hospital your bag will be ready to go with you.

    There is good information on the things you might need for a home birth *here*

    Speak to your midwifery team to double check what they recommend you have ready for your home delivery.

  • It can feel like you need loads try not to worry about it. They should mostly be things you will need in the early days with your baby anyway.

    • Some lists you see online are huge. Ask friends and family what they are really glad they had with them and what was a waste of time!
    • Why not ask the parents on Just One Norfolk’s Parenting Forum what they found useful?

    Getting ready for a new baby can be expensive. If you are really worried about how you will afford the things for a hospital bag for you and / or your baby speak to your midwife or health visitor. They can help make sure you have all you need.

Who can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife; she is there to support and guide you throughout your whole pregnancy journey.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

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