When you reach the point in your pregnancy when you need to pack your hospital bag, things definitely start to feel VERY real! I started to think about packing it around week 34 but it took me a few weeks to get everything together. Now, I’m happy to say that I’m basically all packed! Well, as much as I can be. There are a few things I still need to throw in right as we’re leaving so it’s as packed as it can be for now.
The hospital gave us a packing checklist which outlined the basics of what we need so I used that as a starting point. I also added a few additional things that I knew would help me get in the birth zone and help me manage the intensity of labour. When I first started to think about getting everything ready, it all felt quite overwhelming. That’s why I thought I’d share everything I’m packing in my hospital bag with you here!
What I’m packing in my hospital bag:
Instead of packing just one big suitcase, I decided to break it up into three bags: one bag for labour, one bag for the baby and one bag for my hospital stay. I’ll need quite different things for each so it just makes sense to me to separate them into different bags and it will save a lot of rummaging around. Here’s a list of everything I’m packing in each:
Birth preferences - We wrote our birth preferences a few weeks ago and went through them with the midwife in our last appointment. She popped a copy in my file but I’ll also be bringing another copy with us on the day.
My own pillow - Often, labour slows down once you get to the hospital because the environment is so foreign. For that reason, the midwives encourage you to make the birth suite as homely as you can and suggest bringing in your own pillow or blanket. We’ve just thrown it in the back of the car, ready to bring with us.
Battery-operated candles - I plan to have the room quite dark with the lights dimmed. Candles will help to create a relaxing, calm environment. Obviously you can’t bring real candles into a hospital but battery-operated ones are perfect. I picked up a cheap box of 10 online.
Stress balls - In her book, Birth Skills, Juju Sundin recommends using stress balls as a pain management tool and a distraction in labour. She talks a lot about the benefits of multi-coloured ones and sells them on her website but they’re expensive! I shopped around a bit and found a pack of juggling balls from KMart for only $3 which basically look the same.
Spray bottle - When I’m feeling hot and sweaty, Ben can spray my face with cool water.
Diffuser and essential oils - Aromatherapy is so powerful in minimising stress, boosting energy levels and reducing pain perceptions so I’m bringing my diffuser along with a handful of essential oils. I’ve been using lavender oil whenever I do my hypnobirthing relaxation, which is deeply calming. I’ve also got clary sage, orange oil and frankincense.
Washcloths - I’ve packed a couple of these. I can wet them and pop them in the fridge before using them on the back of my neck or forehead or I can put a few drops of essential oils on them to sniff.
Speakers - The midwives encourage you to have music in the birth suite and are more than happy for you to bring your own speakers. We’ve got a small bluetooth speaker that will be perfect.
Mantra cards - I’ve written down some positive birth affirmations on small cards that I can refer to or Ben can read to me if needed. They’re things like: It’s a healthy pain, It’s only a muscle working and My body is perfectly designed to do this.
Snacks - I’ve got a mix of healthy things like granola bars and trail mix as well as things that will give me a sugar boost like gummy bears and chocolate bars. I’ve also got energy drinks and coconut water chilling in the fridge. Who knows whether I’ll feel like eating during labour but it’s there if I need it!
Heat gel pack - Heat is supposed to be amazing in labour so I’ve packed a gel pack as well as something to tie it on with. I can imagine it would get pretty annoying having to hold onto it during contractions.
TENS machine - In terms of drug-free pain relief options, a lot of women swear by TENS machines. It’s basically a little battery-operated machine that sends electrical pulses into your muscles, interrupting pain signals. It’s non-invasive, completely safe and you’re in complete control of it. You can hire them from the hospital but I actually found it was a lot cheaper to hire one independently from Birth Partner. You get it for eight weeks – four weeks before your due date and four weeks after.
Swimwear - The hospital has big, deep birth pools in every birth suite as well as a shower. I definitely plan on labouring in the water if it feels good so I’ve packed swimwear for both Ben and I.
Kitchen sponges - At our hospital classes, the midwife said that being on all fours while in the bath is a really great labour position but that your knees can get really sore. They recommend bringing a couple of kitchen sponges that you can kneel on.
Camera - Even though we’ve hired a birth photographer, we wanted to bring our own camera too. While we won’t be using it much in the labour itself (that’s what the photographer’s there for after all!), after she leaves, it will be good to have it.
Phone and charger - Obviously!
Headphones - I might like to listen to my hypnobirthing tracks or other music in the bath so I’m bringing my headphones.
Lip balm - Everyone talks about how dry your lips get in labour and how a good lip balm is a godsend.
Warm socks - Apparently your feet can get quite chilly in labour and the midwives recommend bringing warm socks to wear. They also recommend the ones with non-slip soles. My feet and hands are always cold no matter what the season and the hospital rooms are quite cool I think.
Comfy clothes - I can imagine that it would be the worst thing ever to be labouring in uncomfortable clothes. At our hospital, women can wear whatever they want in labour so I’ve packed a loose, soft nightie as well as a pair of shorts and a crop top. If I get cold, I have other, warmer clothes in my hospital stay bag that I can pull out.
Old underwear - Once your water breaks, it all gets a bit messy! But who knows when it will break? The midwives say to bring a few pairs of old undies because I’ll probably want to change them often when it happens.
Nappies - At our hospital classes, the midwife was saying that babies don’t go through a huge amount of nappies in the first couple of days. She said to just pack 10 in the hospital bag and leave the rest of the packet in the car if needed.
Wipes - I’m always pretty cautious about the ingredients in products and I’ve got to say, there seems to be A LOT of ingredients in most wipes on the market. I know how sensitive babies’ skin is so, for that reason, I’ve opted for Water Wipes since they seem to be the purest and gentlest. They literally only contain 99.9% water and a drop of grapefruit seed extract.
Onesies - I’ve packed three onesies, which should be enough to last us until we go home. If there are any accidents or for whatever reason we need more, Ben can just run home and grab some more (we live only about 15 minutes from the hospital).
Singlets - I’ve packed three to go under the onesies.
Cardigan - I’m bringing a cardigan to take baby home in. I don’t know what the weather will be like on the day but I know babies feel the cold a lot more than we do so I’ve got it in case.
Swaddles - I’ve got a whole heap of muslin swaddles at home but I’m packing two of my favourites for the hospital. The baby will be wrapped up in these most of the time to stay nice and snug.
Hat - To keep baby’s head warm.
Blanket - For extra warmth and to use when we leave the hospital.
My hospital stay bag
Dressing gown - It’s all about comfort in those first few days (and weeks!) after the baby is born. I’ve packed a nice, soft dressing gown to wear while I’m in the postnatal ward. I’ll be honest – I don’t think it’ll come off the entire time I’m there!
Comfy clothes - If I’m totally honest, I don’t really want to be welcoming visitors in my old pjs. Instead, I’ve packed a couple of pairs of soft, stretchy and dark-coloured lounge pants as well as a t-shirt or two.
Toiletries - I’ve just packed a few basic toiletries, all in travel size, including my toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, face and body moisturiser, as well as a hairbrush and hair ties.
Maternity bras and singlets - I’ve been wearing maternity bras for a few months now – they’re just SO much more comfortable than my regular wire bras. I’m packing a couple of them as well as a few maternity singlets (the ones with the built-in bra). That way, I can just throw my gown over the top.
Maternity pads - There are a few brands on the market so it was hard to know which ones to get. I ended up going with the Libra maternity pads with wings. The hospital recommends bringing three packs of them (woah!)
Depends disposable underwear - Some women swear by these and others hate them but I thought I’d buy a pack and bring them along to see what I feel like using at the time.
Black underwear - I’ve bought high-waisted, black full briefs in big sizes. They need to be comfy but also sturdy!
Breast pads - I’m not really sure how much leakage I’ll have or how often I’ll need to change these (it’s all new to me) but I’ve packed about eight pairs of breast pads. They hardly take up any room which is good.
Thongs (flip flops) - These will just be for walking around the hospital in since we’re supposed to wear footwear at all times.
Slippers - To wear in my room as I recover.
A change of clothes for Ben - Half of the postnatal ward is made up of private, double rooms and the other half is shared. If we’re lucky enough to get a private room after the birth, Ben will be able to stay overnight but otherwise he won’t be able to. I’m packing a fresh t-shirt and some comfy pants for him in case he can stay.
I think that’s everything! It seems like a lot for (hopefully) only a short hospital stay and I might not use everything I’ve packed but I’d rather have it on-hand in case I need it. Mamas, if you’ve packed a hospital bag before, I’d love your feedback! What have I missed? What don’t I need? Please let me know!
Catch up on my pregnancy journey with these posts:
- My Maternity Leave Plans
- The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss: 6 Things That Change
- A Babymoon in Port Douglas
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What have I missed?! Let me know your suggestions in the comments!