Packing a hospital bag

This is one of those questions that I literally had zero clue about back in April 2015. I scoured the internet looking for lists and I found it really hard to get a definitive answer.

I packed my bag really early. Neil had a few meetings scheduled for when i was 34 weeks pregnant each between 3 and 5 hours away from home. I needed to be prepared. Those who know me know that I am a planner. I like to be organised and I like to have a plan and a list. Unfortunately, when it comes to babies, unless you have an elective c-section all booked in you just don’t know when they will arrive. Luckily for me our baby didn’t arrive when Neil was hundreds of miles away from home. She arrived a week later at 35 weeks. So really it was lucky i was prepared.

I have laid this list out in 2 ways. The list itself and then the rational behind whats on the list (mainly there as a way of explanation for some of the more odd items on the list!). It is split into sections, dependant on bag that the item needed to go in (told you I like to be organised! :P)

Items needed for my hospital bag:

  • Slippers/ flip flops
  • Thin dressing gown
  • Nightie x2
  • Cotton pants
  • Paper pants
  • Maternity pads
  • Water mist spray
  • Flannels
  • Straws for water
  • Change of clothes for after birth – maternity joggers/ leggings and a tshirt. No jeans!
  • Eye mask
  • Make up
  • Hairbrush and bobbles/clips/hairband
  • Face wipes
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant stick not spray
  • Small shampoo/conditioner & shower gel
  • Snacks
  • Pillow for me (with dark pillow case)
  • Towel for me (dark coloured)
  • Tooth brush and paste
  • Money for vending machine & parking (in change bag)
  • Water bottle
  • Tens machine
  • Portable phone Charger and cable
  • Camera
  • Magazine

Items for baby (packed in changing bag):

  • First outfit
  • hats for baby
  • Baby grows
  • Vests
  • Baby blankets
  • Muslins
  • Size 0 and size 1 nappies
  • Cotton wool
  • Small tub for water for nappy changes
  • Scratch mits
  • Disposable changing mats
  • baby toy/ comforter

Items I’ll need in hospital post birth (in separate bag in car boot or waiting at home):

  • Camera
  • Extra Baby blankets
  • Nursing pillow
  • Change of clothes for me – loose fitting.
  • Change of clothes for baby – hung in baby wardrobe.
  • Bottles?!?

Dads bag:

  • Snacks
  • phone charger
  • camera
  • book/kindle/ipad/magazine
  • change of clothes
  • list of people to contact (can be in notes section on phone)

Ok, Ok! I know this seems like an awful lot of bags. But hear me out. I had a bag for me, with just my things in. I packed it how I wanted and mainly it was only me that went in it for things. Only when labour REALLY started did i rely on Neil to get me bits from the bag. I didn’t want him ‘scrabbling’ about in the bag for things of his or bits for the baby, so I split things up. The changing bag for baby was left in the car until after our daughters were born. It gave Neil the ability to walk out into the fresh air to make a few calls and to take stock as to what just happened.


Now, here is the justification for a few of the items in my hospital bag…

Stock up on maternity pads and team them with disposable pants for the first 5-7 days PP.  Normal sanitary towels won’t cut it, so don’t even bother with things that seem discreet (at least in the first week!). I chose pads with wings to keep them in place and I’ve recommended them to friends and family. I know paper pants are not something you ever want to admit to buying, but trust me, they were a lifesaver just after having both babies when my blood flow was quite high (sorry if that is TMI).

The disposable changing mats are good for nappy changes and for you on the way to hospital if your waters break early on and you need to get yourself to hospital in your own car!

If you don’t want the disposable option ensure you have some sort of travel changing mat in your changing bag for your hospital changes as you will most probably doing those first nappy changes on your hospital bed.

Eye mask – Now this one might be wishful thinking. But the lights are not turned off till late on the postnatal ward and you might need your sleep earlier!

Baby grows in various sizes – Our first daughter was very small. Even the newborn up to 7lbs were enormous on her. So keep an eye on your growth chart and have a discussion with your midwife at the latter appointments. As a rule of thumb Tiny/Early baby is approx 5.5lbs, Newborn is up to 7lbs, 1 Month is about 10lbs and 0-3 months is around 14lbs. But this does change from shop to shop. Also, remember that you are very likely to have a 24 hour supermarket within a quick drive of the hospital and they stock all you will need for baby including some lovely clothes.

Take your own towel for post birth showers, just ensure it is not white or light coloured (for obvious reasons). The same goes for a pillow of your own. This was suggested to me by our NCT tutor and i loved having my own pillow (in a dark pillowcase) with me throughout labour and then up on the ward afterwards.

Drinks. They will provide you with water, but both times i was in labour i got a very dry mouth and water didn’t really help. I took a little bottle of squeezy squash in my bag with me. My good old NCT tutor again suggested drinking straws and I used them during my first labour when i was being monitored and had to lay as still as possible on my back.

Change for vending machine and parking. Check your hospitals inpatient parking policy. Our hospital in East London offered a cheaper rate with a permit that could be obtained from the midwifes. Other hospitals offer parking on an app which means you wont need change for parking. Either which way, just be prepared.

Face wipes/ Flannel/ water mist spray. It gets hot in hospitals. And babies need to be kept warm. So maternity wards are hot. Ensure you have a way of keeping cool, especially as labour is not normally a quick process.

Have some make up in your bag (I think its probably worth buying a 2nd set so you can just leave it in your bag once its packed). Again our our hospital there was a professional photography company that come around the day after birth and take photos. From experience, you’ll want to look at least half decent and not like you’ve been up for hours upon hours (which you most certainly will have by then!)

Also worth dad packing a small bag. Change of clothes and snacks. Phone chargers (portable best as on a number of the labour wards there isn’t somewhere to plug phones in). A book/magazine/kindle – early stages of labour are boring and they might need something to do whilst you are sleeping (if your labour is long you will have time to sleep/snooze, i’ve never been that lucky!).

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