Having recently spent 5 days in the hospital, 4 on the induction ward and one actually giving birth I can safely say what items you really need in a hospital bag. Some items I packed I found completely useless and others were complete game-changers.
But before I move on I wanted to point out that my actual labour was fairly short as I was induced and labour for every single person is different. So I wanted to talk about the products I used and loved and others that were a complete waste of space and even some things I wish I had!
Here is what to pack in your hospital bag, what not to bother with and what I wish I had packed.
What To Pack In A Hospital Bag
Sanitary Pads & Pants
I used the Tena ladies pants as they were advised to use by a friend after birth. They were my ultimate game-changer after giving birth, they were comfortable, easy to wear and gave me one less thing to worry about. My friend who had given birth the year before recommended these as they were much easier and gave you better coverage than normal pads.
I used these up until I was no longer bleeding heavily and could manage with normal maternity pads. The bonus of using the Tena Ladies pants was that I didn’t need to worry about underwear, they were easy to wear and they gave me great coverage. You can find an alternative brand of these pants in the supermarket and they all generally work just as well as the others.
Pack a full pack of sanity pads in your bag no matter what brand and styles you prefer. Sanitary pads and pants are vital afterwards as the lochia (after birthbleeding) can and onwards as you cannot use tampons or menstrual cups.
At first, when everyone kept telling me headphones would come in handy I didn’t really see how they would until I was having contractions and the music helped me feel distracted. We had originally packed separate headphones for myself and my wife but we soon found we wanted to watch things together and listen to the same music.
So we decided to use Apple Airpods instead, that way we could each have an earpiece and listen to the same music or tv show. Try and avoid headphones with wires as these will just get in the way, tangled up and be frustrating when your already feeling uncomfortable.
Clothing For You
I found clothing the hardest to plan for as I didn’t know what I would want to wear and how I would feel so I stuck with my maternity leggings, a loose nursing top as I planned to breastfeed and my coat.
As I ended up staying on the induction ward longer than I planned I ended up needing more clothes that I originally thought. This was a one off and may not apply to you but if you feel this may happen to you, get your partner or family member/friend to have a bag of spare clothes for you in the car or at home ready to bring.
Here is a quick list of clothing items to pack in your hospital bag
- 5 pairs of large underwear for after birth
- 2 bras – nursing or normal (this may depend on if you plan to breastfeed or not)
- Going home outfit – remember to make this as comfortable as you can as you might not feel like wearing anything but a sack for the first few days.
- Back up outfit
- 2 Nighties or loose long t-shirts – one for during labour and the other for after
- Dressing gown & slippers
Clothing For Your Baby(s)
Babies don’t require as much as you might think, or at least I didn’t think so. I actually felt quite guilty when packing our hospital bag as I had more stuff than our baby did even though the whole event was for him.
Here is what I suggest packing into your hospital bag:
- 5 vests (both newborn and 0-3 months)
- 5 sleepsuits (both newborn and 0-3 months)
- 1-2 baby hats
- 1 – 2 pairs of scratch mittens
- Going home oufit
- cardigan or outside snowsuit
- baby blanket
We only packed a couple of things initially due to not really knowing what we would want or need. We found that there wasn’t much we could pack that we actually would want to eat so we stuck with chocolate mostly.
The difficulty of packing snacks is knowing how long you will be in labour for, what time it is and what time the shop in the hospital shuts etc so we just stuck with sweet snacks and ran to the cafe or shop for fresher savoury items such as sandwiches and wraps.
If you can bring a sandwich or wrap or something you like to eat as you will get hungry and most likely need to eat at some point before or even after labour. Though the toast and tea after giving birth is wonderful and one of the best meals you will ever eat!
Remember to pack your antenatal notes, this will help the midwives and doctors with any past records without having to go and search for them in the system.
Toilettries For You
There are a number of toilettries you might want or need during your stay in hospital, this is helpful if you stay in a couple of days or just the one day. More than likely you are going to want to get some kind of bath or shower after giving birth so having a little bag of toiletries is worth while packing.
Here is a list of the toiletries that are worth packing:
- Body Wash
- Lip Balm
- Face wash
- Make Up
- Nipple Cream
- Hair bobbles & clips
One of the essential items to pack is nappies for your newborn, we chose to pack around 10 nappies so we had enough to last us. If you stay in hospital after giving birth you can always ask your birthing partner or who ever is visiting to bring more for you.
We actually took our nappies and put them into large food storage bags so they were easy to find and grab hold of when we needed them. I suggest doing something similar so you can easily find your babies items quickly and easily, especially if someone is doing it for you.
We took a small pack of wipes as we didn’t feel we would need loads but having some to hand is great. We packed these along with our nappies so when we needed them they were easy to find and had everything in the bag we would need for a nappy change.
These can be for your phone, headphones, smart watch, camera, iPad or anything that requires charging. Make sure to pack them in advance if you can so you don’t rush out the door and forget.
You could even go as far as buying a second one to leave in your bag so you don’t have to remember to pack it.
Sterile Bottles, Formula & Teets
Even though we planned to breastfeed we chose to pack some formula and sterile bottles to use as a back up if required. Lucky we did as we had trouble latching and so needed to bottle feed until we had more sleep.
Don’t forget to pack a spare bottle if you are breastfeeding and a couple of bottles if you are bottle feeding.
Things Not To Pack In Your Hospital Bag
There are plenty of extra things you might want to take to hospital with you and that’s fine, just remember you have to carry home with you again too.
One of the most annoying but helpful things you will experience in the later days of pregnancy is an exercise ball. The ball is extremely helpful in getting your baby in position and can be a much comfier way of sitting but there comes a time where you cant take your ball with you, and that is the hospital.
All hospitals in the UK in labour and induction wards have exercise balls and if they don’t you can ask for one so you can leave yours at home. Your partner will thank you for it trust me.
Remember to pack light and sensibly as you will need to carry it all home again anyway. Also, no one is going to judge you when you have just given birth so only take your essential make up items and a simple outfit or two.
If you require the use of a breast pump you can ask one of the midwives for one, keep yours for at home and save yourself the extra weight and added stress when packing.