Packing your labour bag is an exciting time during pregnancy and signals that it won’t be long until baby has arrived. It is recommended that you have a bag packed by week 36, in case you need to go into hospital a little earlier than expected.
Your hospital bag should contain the essentials for you and baby, but also a few little comforts and treats – after all, giving birth is hard work, so you need to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. You can choose any bag you want, from a small suitcase to a rucksack. Bags with lots of pockets work well, so you can direct your partner to find things in a hurry! In fact, these days you can even buy a labour bag that is packed already! However, we think this is one of the fun parts of pregnancy. You could even pack two bags – one for labour, and one in case you stay in hospital after the birth. If the birth goes to plan, you could be out of hospital and back home within 24 hours, so the second bag will not be needed.
Packing for labour
- Your birth plan and maternity notes.
- A nightie or t-shirt to wear in labour. You don’t want to wear anything special, as labour can get quite messy. It should be loose and comfortable so as not to restrict you moving around. A lightweight material is ideal as it can get hot during labour, and on the postnatal ward.
- A dressing gown for the early stages of labour and afterwards.
- Slippers and socks (feet can get cold during labour).
- Massage oil, if you would like to be massaged during your labour. You could use the same massage oil you intend to use for baby massage.
- A fan to cool you down, or a water spray.
- Lip balm – the warm labour ward tends to dry out your lips.
- Snacks and drinks for you while you are in labour. Easy to digest isotonic sports drinks are effective, and glucose tablets will keep your energy levels up.
- Hairbands – particularly if you have long hair, it may be easier tied up out of the way.
- Relaxation and distraction – to pass the time in early labour, you may want to pack a book, magazines, or some music.
- Birthing ball – this can really help with labour, and the hospital may have some already. If you take your own, remember to take a pump so your partner can inflate it.
- Pillows – a V-shaped pillow can be particularly useful when you are breastfeeding.
- TENS pain relief machine, if you plan to use one.
- Any medication you are taking.
- A camera.
- Contact details for friends and family.
Packing for the post-natal ward
- 2 or 3 comfortable and supportive bras (and nursing, if you plan to breastfeed). Your breasts will be larger than usual, so a bigger size will be more comfortable.
- Night time bras – you may want added support at night.
- Breast pads.
- Loose-fitting nighties or tops with front openings, if you plan to breastfeed.
- Maternity pads or super-absorbent sanitary pads.
- 5 or 6 pairs of knickers – disposable knickers are particularly useful for the first few days after giving birth.
- Toiletries – don’t forget to pack your toothbrush, hairbrush, soap, deodorant, make up, and other items you will want if you stay in hospital.
- A comfortable outfit to wear home.
- Healthy snacks such as cereal bars and drinks – you will need to make sure you keep up your energy if you are breastfeeding, and even more so with twins or multiples.
- A bag for dirty clothes (and if someone can do the laundry for you while in hospital, even better!).
- Antiseptic wipes – useful for shared toilets and baths.
- Nipple cream.
- Ear plugs – in case you are on a noisy ward.
Packing for baby
- Nappies (and lots of them!).
- Cotton wool balls, although the hospital will probably have plenty (baby wipes aren’t recommended until 2-4 weeks after birth).
- Muslin squares – so useful when looking after baby.
- Baby vests, bodysuits and sleepsuits.
- A shawl or blanket.
- A hat, scratch mittens, and socks or booties.
- An outfit for going home in, including a pram suit/snow suit if it is cold.
- A car seat for the trip home (this, obviously, won’t fit in your bag, but necessary to get baby home!).
Happy packing! If you think we’ve missed something, please feel free to share in the comments below. We love hearing what other people packed in their bags.
Photo credit: Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash