A GPs checklist of what to take in your hospital bag

I am currently 33 weeks pregnant with number two and feel like I have transitioned into full nesting mode! It’s a time during the third trimester where you feel a sudden urge to get things ready for the new arrival. As well as setting up all the newborn bits and bobs at home, one of the things you will also have to think about will be your hospital bag. It can seem like a daunting process – how do you know what you or the baby will need? So, to help, I have put together a list of what I will be packing in my bag this time round! I would recommend starting this process at around 32/33 weeks just in case you need to order anything. If you’re planning a home birth it is still worth getting all these things together, so you have it all to hand.

- Dr Stephanie Ooi

Tips for packing:

Use clear reusable bags or packing cubes and label them so everything can be easily located.

Ask your birth partner to pack with you so they know where to find things

Once all packed, leave in an accessible place near the front door

It is best to keep it to one bag so it’s easy to transport. A cabin sized hand luggage suitcase is a good option as it has two compartments – one for your things (small space for your birth partner!) and one for baby. I used a separate bag for snacks.

For mum - Labour

Hospital notes - Important to have these for the team looking after you.

Hair-ties – Speaking from experience you will want your hair up and out of your face during labour.

Small fan, water spray or face cloth – To keep you cool. The face cloth can be dampened with cool water.

Large bottle – To fill up with water and ensure you are hydrated.

Slippers – For walking around.

Dressing gown – Again for walking around/pacing during labour.

Loose clothing or nightie – With my first, I ended up using the hospital gowns rather than the nightie I had brought with me. If you choose to take something to wear during labour, make sure you take a few changes and something you don’t mind getting stained!

Lip balm – I found my lips got really chapped during my previous labour so this is an essential.

Pillow – Finding an extra pillow might be hard to find so best to bring your own. Use a coloured pillowcase so it’s easily identifiable and doesn’t get lost.

Portable speakers or headphones – Make a playlist of your favourite music to take with you. I loved this during my first labour. You may also want to take other forms of “entertainment” like a loaded tablet or book if there is any downtime between contractions.

Aromatherapy diffuser / massage oil – You may find this helps with relaxation.

TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) – can sometimes help as a form of pain relief by using a mild electrical current. It is not always effective for everyone but something to consider. I borrowed one from a friend last time rather than buying one.

Snacks – Very important! Best to pack non-perishable items as they may be in your bag for a few weeks before you need them. E.g. cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, boiled sweets, mints, crisps, lucozade.

For mum - After labour

Nightdress – You will want something loose and comfortable to wear. If you are planning on breastfeeding then make sure there will be easy access such as a button down nightshirt.

Comfortable underwear – You will need soft comfortable bras. If you are planning on breastfeeding then best to take a couple of nursing bras. For pants, I would recommend buying black cotton pants that you won’t mind getting messy in a size or two up so they can accommodate maternity pads.

Maternity pads – It is very normal to have bleeding after giving birth so having a pack of these is essential. You can consider the larger all in one maternity pants but I found I wanted to feel as normal as possible and preferred the cotton pant/pad combination.

Soothing pads – If you have a vaginal birth it will most likely be quite sore down below. Placing something like a Multi-Gyn Maternity Compress on top of a maternity pad can provide some much needed relief. These maternity compresses are ideal after childbirth to help relieve discomforts such as irritations, rashes, overstretched tissue, injured skin and/or haemorrhoids.

Breast pads and nipple cream – If planning to breastfeed then the cream may be needed if your nipples get sore. Try using a soothing pad, like Multi-Mam Breastfeeding Compresses that help create moist healing conditions, decreasing the chance of infection and providing relief to sore, cracked or swollen nipples.

Phone charger – When you feel ready to make contact with friends and family to let them know the good news, this will be handy. Plus you will no doubt be taking plenty of photos of your new precious baby.

Toiletries – The first shower after giving birth feels amazing! Take any of your favourite things to treat yourself with after – you can decant products into small reusable bottles. Remember things like your toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, face cream, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, deodorant, towel, hairbrush. If make-up is part of your usual routine then don’t forget that too.

Glasses/contact lenses – Important to remember these!

Going home:

Clothing – Something comfortable that you can breastfeed in if this is what you plan to do e.g. wrap dress, maternity leggings with stretchy vest top and regular top or oversized shirt

Shoes – Ones that are easy to slip on. You don’t want to be faffing with bending down and doing up laces etc Flip flops are ideal if it is Summer!

For your birthing partner:

Don’t forget they will need to pack a few things too!

I would suggest a change of clothes, towel, glasses/contact lenses and phone charger.

For baby

Clothes - Take some bodysuits and all-in-one babygrows. A few hats will also be good as babies tend to lose most of their body heat through their head.

Take some scratch mitts too. Your midwife can advise you on what’s best for them to wear if unsure as the temperature of the ward may vary.

First toy/going home outfit – You may want to reserve a specific set for the going home pictures!

Muslins – So handy to have a couple to hand.

Blanket – The hospital will probably give you a blanket, but you might want to bring one of your own too.

Nappies – Best to take a mix of size 0 and size 1 depending on how big your little one is. Take quite a lot, about 15-20!

Cotton balls – To use with water for nappy changes. The hospital may provide some but take a small bag just in case.

Pramsuit – For the journey home if it is cold.

Car seat – For the journey home. Make sure you have the base installed if this is needed and that you have familiarised yourself with how the seat clicks in and out.

Dr Stephanie Ooi