List: What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag

Even though I was planning a home birth with my son Eric, from 25 weeks of pregnancy I had packed a hospital bag just in case! Ever the Girl Guide I live by the motto 'always be prepared'.  It's a good thing I did pack a hospital bag in the end as when Eric was born we did need to transfer to hospital from home, and Alex was stressed enough just finding my toothbrush to add to the bag!

So, here is what was in my hospital bag, and what I would recommend you pack!

  • SNACKS! Pack your favourite snacks, because labour is jolly hard work and you'll be starving after the birth, and although they feed you three square meals a day in hospital, they don't provide snacks! And if you have just given birth at midnight, breakfast is a long wait and the piece of toast they offer won't hit the spot! So pack fruit, juice cartons, oat cakes, chocolate, anything you love! There were vending machines at the hospital but they didn't have anything vegan and were really expensive.

  • Money.  Parking at our hospital was so expensive, so make sure you have a purse with at least £10 in coins in it for that.  You might also want extra money for the vending machine, and I had to pay to watch TV too! As I was in hospital for 5 days I did end up getting really bored so Alex paid for me to watch TV, and bought magazines etc.!

  • Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and travel sizes of your skincare, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body moisturiser.  I have never felt so sweaty and dirty as I did after giving birth, and the sponge bath I was given by the nurses was bliss!!

  • A fresh outfit to wear home (chances are you arrived in hospital in your nightie which will now be disgusting)

  • A hairbrush is an ESSENTIAL, and in my opinion so is dry shampoo, as labour does terrible things to your hair (sweaty, tangled, lank) and then everyone wants to take your picture.

  • Pain relief, such as a Tens machine, combs to grip with your hands so they dig in to the acupressure points, flannels for soaking in hot water and placing on your back, massage oil for your partner to rub your back, and wooden spoons to press into the acupressure points on the shoulders (I would really recommend acupressure, you can read about it here and buy the DVD to learn the points with your partner)

  • A diary and pen, to preserve the amazing memories of the birth and first few moments with your baby.  You can also rip pages out and make lists of stuff for your partner to bring you that you forgot and need!

  • A spritzy water bottle, to spray on your face and neck to cool you down and to drink from even!

  • Camera, with charged up batteries

  • An iPod pre-loaded with your favourite music.  I did not actually want to listen to music at the time but it really helped listening to my Hypnobirthing relaxation on the iPod, and who knows, you might want to listen to music to help you relax.  It's good to have the option!

  • A hairband to push your hair back (and a bobble to tie it up if it's long) to keep it off your hot, red, greasy, sweaty face during labour

  • Your birth plan and your maternity notes

  • A big, baggy t shirt for giving birth.  I bought a maternity one in size 16 (I am a 12).  I wouldn't recommend a nightie personally due to the longer length, as to me everything felt like it was getting in the way, and you will not care at all about your dignity at the time! I ended up just walking round in my bra with my bare ass on display for all to see and I didn't give a c**p.

  • Nursing pads and nursing bras.  I couldn't wear any bras apart from the soft, cotton, crop top style sleep ones as it can be really uncomfortable when your milk comes in, and I needed 4.  Pack pads even if you're not planning to breastfeed as your boobs will still fill up with milk! You'll need LOTS so buy a few boxes, or about 20 pairs of washable ones, to save your partner having to go and buy more and not knowing which to get.

  • Maternity pads / or 'night time' sanitary pads and old knickers.  I would not bother buying disposable knickers, they are really, REALLY uncomfortable and old, comfy, 'period pants' are just as good! Take about 5 pairs.  I found the maternity pads quite good as they were very padded against my stitches which made sitting down slightly more comfortable, but to be honest the 'night time' pads with wings you can get are just as, if not more, absorbent.

  • A plastic carrier bag to put dirty clothes in

  • List of people and their contact details so your partner knows who to phone after the birth to let them know the exciting news

  • Clothes for the baby.  Beware! Size 0-3 is NOT the size for newborns! I did not know this! You need either 'Newborn' or 'First size', or even 'Tiny Baby' if your baby is small! 0-3 months is ginormous.  Pack 5 sleepsuits, 5 bodysuits/vests, a hat, 2 pairs of booties, 2 cardigans and a special going home outfit.  Also if your baby will be born in the winter pack a warm coat or snowsuit for the baby! It's a very good idea to pack the baby's clothes, nappies etc. all together in 1 section of the bag, or even in their own bag, as your partner will probably have to get them out and boys do not seem to be good at finding things in bags.  Show them where everything is in advance, but expect them to forget.  If your partner is female then don't worry, girls usually know where things are.

  • A baby blanket

  • Muslin squares.  Take about 10!

  • Car seat (you won't be allowed to leave hospital without one!)

  • Make up! Not for the actual birth, but I really wish I'd worn some for at least some of the hospital/going home photos!

  • Lip balm, as your lips can get so dry during labour and in the hot wards.

  • Cosy socks or slippers

  • Pyjamas or nighties and a dressing gown

  • Nappies and either wipes or cotton wool.  We use washable nappies, but I'd recommend packing eco disposables instead as our hospital didn't have nappy washing facilities.  We used disposables for the first couple of weeks in the end while we got used to caring for the new baby, but now we love our reuseable nappies.  Also, don't be put off using your wipes by the midwives on the ward telling you to use cotton wool and water.  Yes that is gentlest, but if that's not what you've packed that's fine, use your wipes! They change their tune when you keep asking for more cotton wool, believe me!

  • A book, for any dull waiting around labour moments, and for after the birth when you're alone on the ward

  • And check the hospital's policy on towels and pillows, will you need to bring your own?

So I hope you find that helpful! If I have forgotten anything I will add it, and if there's something you found invaluable that isn't included, please comment!