Updated: Oct 3
Things have been quiet for me on the blog lately. I’ve just gone back to work, full time, after an amazing 9 months off, 7 of which I got to spend with my wonderfully beautiful baby boy.
It has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but for one reason or another, its the decision that makes the most sense for us as a family, for the moment.
Because of this, I haven’t really been thinking about writing at all much lately, and more wanting to concentrate on just enjoying my final weeks of maternity leave, and the freedom of being able to do what I want… or what the baby and I want to do… or okay, what the baby wants to do. I’ve loved every minute I’ve had with him, but in an attempt to get my life into a new baby-work-housework-writing-fun routine, I’ve finally picked the pen back up… or in this case, the laptop.
So I’m starting off with a pretty straight forward topic, and a very common question – what do you pack in your hospital bag, when you’re going to give birth?
There are hundreds upon hundreds of lists online, but I still wanted to share my input, because why not? Childbirth changes all of the time – not the actual act, but the hospital process, the guidelines, all of it, can change, even in as little as a year.
Where to you start? There was a suggested list in my baby book – a lovely book that takes you throughout your pregnancy and then the baby’s first year – so I used this as a rough guide. I also read one of the many, many online lists. Then I made my own list. Then another. A list for my bag… for the baby’s bag… for the snack/odd bits that won’t fit in my bag, bag…and for my husbands bag.
I checked the lists over and over. Even they were broken up into their own sections, what we already had, what we needed to buy and what we needed to borrow. This might seem obsessive to some, but others might understand that this sort of planning can quell the many anxieties you feel in the run up to the birth. Being prepared for something that you’re essentially told you can’t prepare for his really quite difficult!
I’ve broken the bag lists up into their own sections. I did not however, have the forethought to take photos of my hospital bag and the things I packed so here is a photo of me in the hospital, where you can see the main bag that I brought!
My bag was a lovely overnight bag I bought from British Home Stores about three years ago, in preparation for my hen-do.
All of the lists will tell you the same basic things, but its important to remember the following –
Everyone is different
Every birth is different
Its better to have something and not need it, then need it and not have it
A lot of hospitals can provide some items but not many, so it might be worth having someone on call to drop off something you might have forgotten, or not thought about, or if you run out of something.
I’ve divided the lists up into useful items and not useful items –
Toothpaste and a toothbrush – Seems a bit obvious really!
Dry shampoo* – A life saver in a way, as everyone wants to take photos of you but I personally had no inclination to wash my hair for at least a week if not longer
Shower gel – Again, seems a bit obvious. I took Baddedas, as I had been told the bubble bath is really good for healing. I now can’t stand the smell of the stuff!
Deodorant & perfume
Nighties – I took three. One to give birth in, and two spares which I definitely needed. One of them was a maternity nightie that I borrowed off my sister, the other two were just nice Matalan nighties that buttoned down on the top for easy breast feeding access, but I got them a size or two bigger than usual
Knickers – I took around six pairs of BIG knickers. My good ol’ period knickers as I like to call them. Whatever you take, make sure you don’t mind them getting a bit stained (mine were black), that they are comfy and that they have enough room for maternity pads.
Socks – I was told to pack thick, fluffy socks as it can get cold on the labour ward. I only needed my normal ones though.
Dressing gown – I took what I think of as my summer dressing gown, but of course whatever your alternative go to comfy wear is. You spend a lot of time going back and forth to the loo.
A pair of slippers – for walking around the ward, easy slip ones that you won’t just step out of
A pair of flip flops – for the shower room
2 nursing bras – Although I didn’t end up wearing one in the hospital so I could have gone with just 1, but this is personal preference
A comfy outfit to come home in – I opted for my pregnancy yoga pants as they are nice and baggy, a vest top with a loose maternity top over it, and slip-on shoes
Nipples pads – about 12 pairs (I used disposables in the hospital)
Maternity pads – I recommend the Tesco own brand, they come in a blue packet and they are so comfy. They are super thick and absorbent. I don’t think anything prepares you for the amount of bleeding you get after, and if I’m honest, mine wasn’t that heavy. Trust me when I say you want comfort down thereafter.
Nipple Cream – The Lanisoh is the best one
The Calm Birth Kit - I made my own for my second labour, but I actually make and sell these now, in my online shop! Follow this link to see more!
Shampoo and conditioner – I was clearly being over ambitious here, I have no idea why I thought I would want to wash my hair whilst in the hospital, when standing under that little shower was quite a painful task. Plus I have really thick hair, and had no way to dry it. Not thinking at all.
Face cream – Nope
Lip balm – I heard this would help with the gas and air as it can make your lips dry but I didn’t really feel that it did and forgot I had it
Hand sanitizer – Always a good thing to have with a baby, but its all over the hospital so not really needed
A flannel – Again, I ended up not needing this because I wasn’t about to go scrubbing anywhere with it!
A handheld fan – There was a fan in the delivery suite and as it was winter, the warmth of the labour ward – once I’d had the baby – was welcomed!
My Husbands Bag
His bag was very basic. I had read it was important because if labour is going slow, or if it lasts a long time, or gets really messy, and for various other reasons, its important that they have a few bits. I haven’t bothered to to do two lists here as it was all useful.
Clean change of clothes
Spare change for parking
List of people to contact
tablet – which he left with me when he went
The Baby’s Bag
I loved packing his hospital bag. Its very hard to know for any of them what you will need. You have no idea how long you will be in hospital, if your baby will be a “sicky” baby, will have lots of poo explosions, and even though some people get an estimated size, not everyone does and its not always accurate. These are just a number of factors to consider. Again, I haven’t done this one in two lists because everyone is different, and I think in the case of the baby, everything has the potential to be useful. I did have to get my husband/mother in law/sister to bring extras in though.
3 baby grows
a going home outfit*
two blankets - it was January and right before the Beast from the East, but you might not need two blankets.
a whole pack of nappies
Toiletries – Sudocrem, bepanthen, baby oil*
The Other Bits Bag
This is for stuff you can’t fit in your overnight bag, if that’s possible. I was induced so I knew I was in hospital the night before I had my baby.
A magazine – I took in that months issue of Gurgle, and this was great. I managed to read through some of it during my early contractions and it offered a great distraction
Tablet – Filled with movies. I managed to watch one movie whilst I was in. The hours are long when you’re in hospital and whilst its a good idea to get some sleep when you can, you also need something to do during those periods when the baby sleeps and you can’t
Phone charger – Obviously
Tens machine – It didn’t so much as take the pain away as offer an electrifying distraction but I would say it was worth it
Snacks – This is a a bit of both. They were great during the night feeds, but my intention had been to drink lucozade and eat snacked between contractions but I just ended up vomiting.
A book - although you might not get much reading done, even a page or two might help to pass the time.
Playing cards – Why we thought we would get the chance to pay cards, I don’t know
Ipod - never used it
Crossword book – See above!
Camera and charger – I had it in my head that I wanted to take photos of my baby on my camera as well as my phone. Never happened.
My notebook that had all of my baby lists in – This had my birth plan in and I thought it was a good idea to have it to hand. With hindsight, you know your birth plan by heart and you also put it in your maternity notes. So no, I didn’t really need it.
I also carried my V shaped pregnancy pillow, which I miss using so much. I used to feel like I was in a little pregnancy nest inside it.
So there you have it – my hospital bag. Its really just a guide, as I’ve said everyone is different and there is no way really to know exactly what you will need.
*All items marked with this * are items I would no longer take, and in some cases don't even buy anymore.