It’s good to plan for your baby’s big birthday: use our handy guide to help you pack your maternity hospital bag at least four weeks in advance
In the exciting weeks before you get to meet your baby, packing your hospital bag should be top of your to-do list. Midwives recommend getting packed by 36 weeks as babies can, and do, arrive early. So if you’re yet to pack your baby bag, our useful guide and easy-tick hospital bag checklist will help you cover everything off.
What to pack for labor & birth?
If you remember only one thing, make it your hospital notes and birth plan (if you have one)! But there’s also a whole range of kit that will make labor and the early days more comfortable and enjoyable. Labor isn’t called labor for nothing: it’s hard, thirsty work and hospitals tend to be hot. So, do all you can to minimize feeling overheated, dehydrated and uncomfortable. Loose, light clothing such as a cotton nightie or T-shirt to give birth in is essential, but you should also think about hair clips if you have long hair, bottled water and lip balm to keep your mouth and lips moist, as well as a cooling face spray to spritz your skin. You’ll need to keep your energy levels up, but you can’t eat large amounts in labor, so a stash of energy snacks is a good idea. And a magazine or book – or your favorite series downloaded on your iPad – can be a distraction in the early stages of labor. Your partner may also be keen to help you during labor, so they should bring cool, comfy clothes, a wash bag, energy snacks, change for vending machines and parking, a camera and chargers. And remember that, by law, you need to use a car seat when you take your baby home from hospital, so install it before the big day.
Hospital bag 'nice-to-haves'
The thought of giving birth can be daunting, so take along a few home comforts to help smooth the ride: make a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes on your phone, and if you find it hard to sleep, a soft pillow from your bed at home will help. A light dressing gown and backless slippers will make a hot hospital ward seem cooler, and bear in mind that they are noisy places, so an eye mask and ear plugs are useful. Decant your favorite toiletries into travel-size bottles or look out for our special mini sizes.
Essentials for once you give birth
When it comes to packing your hospital bag, you’ll also need to think about the early hours and days after birth: a good supply of maternity pads, disposable maternity briefs, breast pads and nipple cream, and a big pack of muslin squares for wiping up spills and sicky moments are all essential, as is a maternity bra if you’re planning to breastfeed. And a change of clothing can make you feel better if you’re expecting visitors. Make sure that you bring enough clothes for several days in hospital, for both you and your baby, just in case you need to stay in longer. The minimum is three newborn baby vests and sleepsuits, a soft hat, scratch mitts, bibs and socks, as well as a blanket and towel. Hospitals don’t provide nappies, so bring a large supply of newborn nappies, plus nappy sacks, cotton wool and a changing mat.