You’re finally nearing the end of your pregnancy and there is no better time to start packing your hospital bag than now.
Your hospital bag, along with your babies hospital bag are both equally important and should be prepared many weeks prior to your due date. Personally, I packed both my hospital bags at approximately twenty-eight weeks, although within the first few weeks of the third trimester is a great time to get organized for your hospital stay. You can unexpectedly go into labor at anytime during your pregnancy so being prepared is key because towards the last few weeks you may not feel like doing much more than lazing on the couch and no woman wants to have to pick up last minute items mid contractions. I strongly recommend that you have all essentials packed at the latest by thirty-eight weeks. You can easily refer to the checklist below while packing both hospital bags marking off each item as you go. The checklist below will cover all essential items needed for a natural birth and if you are due to give birth via cesarean you may need to add more comfort items as your stay will generally be longer.
Paperwork to Pack
It is not always possible to take your paperwork with you regarding your labor as sometimes it comes unexpectedly early, although if possible attempt to take with you the following:
- Your medicare card or details
- Details of your private health insurance (if relevant)
- Ante Natal Card
- Birth Plan/maternity notes (keeping in mind that they do not always follow out exactly as planned)
Baby Momma to Be Hospital Bag
My advice is to always pack more because although many partners or family members are willing to nick home for something, you don’t want to be left short after visiting hours especially if you are craving a midnight snack! Furthermore, it is important to pack essentials such as breast pads if you are or are not intending to breastfeed as many women change their minds once their bundle of joy has arrived (reading our blog may clear up any misconceptions on breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the length of you’re hospital stay will reflect on how well your labor goes and the health of your baby. Many women stay in hospital anywhere from one to four days after a natural delivery depending on circumstances although others may have to stay longer. I recommend packing enough items to last up to four days for both yourself and your soon to be bundle of joy.
- 1 x Dressing gown- hospitals are generally a set temperature so it is important if you feel the cold like me to have one packed. Dressing gowns are also great to pop on after showering and give bub something to snuggle in to. You may also be in a shared ward as I was so they are great to wear around when feeding.
- Loose night dress or something similar to wear during labor (often they will give you a gown to wear although if you prefer your own clothing it is important to have something old to donate to the cause in your hospital bag)
- 3 x pairs of loose-fitting pyjamas (recommendation- I found that Peter Alexanders range of maternity pyjamas worked great for breast feeding and were very comfortable, also front opening button up pyjamas are great for feeding)
- 3 x day clothes (I found leggins were great with loose baggy tops that could be lifted for feeding. Other’s prefer singlets with built in maternity bras.
- 3 x socks- Socks are great comfort items, especially bed socks if you aren’t the type of person to wear a pair of slippers.
- 1 x going home outfit (a pair of loose fitting pants and loose fitting shirt will often do the trick- remember you will not be your pre-labor size straight after you give birth, your tummy will stick around for a bit longer)
- 2 x nursing bras (recommendation- maternity bras)
- 6 x pairs of underwear (pack a variety of underwear preferably dark colours because you may have to have an emergency cesarean- some loose fitting and others thick and worthy of holding a thick maternity pad, you can leave your skimpy undies at home! Recommendation- Bonds maternity underwear)
- 1 x pair of slippers
- 1 x pair of thongs (I found these great to wear to and from the bathroom)
- 1 x pair of going home shoes (Depending on the weather around the time you are due to give birth you may like to pack a pair of enclosed shoes otherwise others are happy to wear a pair of slippers to the car)
- Money – maternity wards will often have a vending machine to buy extra snacks if needed and newborn hospital photo shoots are available at some hospital
- 1 x box of Breast Pads (disposable or reusable breast pads- both do the trick) (Recommendation- for fancy breast pads head to Milkmade Avenue)
- Pads, Pads and more Pads (After labor you can bleed up to six weeks and the first few days will be the heaviest so its important to be prepared. The hospital will most likely provide some form of pads although it is best to have your own handy as well. I suggest packing at least two packets of thick maternity pads and a couple of regular pads as well. Tampons are not advised for many weeks after giving birth so its recommended you leave these at home.)
- Nipple cream and nipple shields (for the first couple of days breastfeeding can be uncomfortable and its important to have some cream too soothe your nipples. I recommend Lansinoh nipple cream which is also recommended by most midwives. This can be purchased from most local chemists for under $15.00)
- Toiletries- a hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes, makeup (if you are up to it after labor), shampoo, conditioner, soaps, hair elastics, deodorant, hair dryer (can work perfectly for drying sore stitches), towel (if your prefer your own), tissues,
- A pump bottle can be useful if you acquire stitches after labor to clean them otherwise most hospital have removable shower heads
- Pen and a notebook (a pen can be hard to come by in the hospital and is very useful for filling out important information when you have some spare time such as birth certificate paperwork. Many people like to record their labor experiences in a notebook or baby book so be sure to pack them as well)
- Lip balms (believe it or not hospitals can actually be quite drying on your lips and its handy to have a chap stick)
- Snacks (who doesn’t love a bit of sugar energy especially after such a tiring experience, or a midnight snack after feeding bub! Don’t forget to pack some rewards for yourself because you deserve it)
- Camera (don’t forget to pack your camera to get a few…hundred photos of bubs first couple of days)
- Earplugs or headphones (there’s nothing worse than getting your baby to sleep so you can as well only to be kept awake by the baby next door. Furthermore some women enjoy listening to music during labor.)
- Gossip magazines (nothing like passing some time while bub sleeps then catching up on the latest Hollywood gossip)
- TENS pain relief machine (if you intend on using one you must bring your own with you)
- Hand held mirror (if you wish to watch the crowning of your new bundle of joy although many hospitals have some mirrors handy)
- Breast pump- if you have already purchased a breast pump there is no harm in taking it to the hospital just in case you have a heavy supply of milk
- Plastic bags (great to have for dirty clothes that need to be segregated)
- Phone and camera charger
- Breastfeeding pillow if you have purchased one
- Swimmers- a swimming top may make you feel more comfortable if a water birth is part of your labor plan
- Water bottle
Last Minute Items
Because baby brain is actually real, here is a list of last minute items you’ll need to grab as you head out the door:
- Mobile phone
- Medication- don’t forget to pack any ongoing medications that you take for example Ural and Elevit
- Pillows (hospitals supply pillows although if you prefer your own make sure to grab it before you head to the hospital)
Babies Hospital Bag
Girl, boy or a surprise? Newborn babies require all the same necessities and by now you may have a rough idea of the size your baby will be born. I recommend having one or two 00000 items on hand but generally an average newborn will fit 0000 clothing. By following this checklist you won’t forget any essential items:
- 4 x pairs of newborn socks
- 2 x pairs of mittens (yes babies are born with nails.. and they are sharp!)
- 2 x newborn bonnets
- 4 x newborn singlets
- 4 x burp clothes
- 4 x all in one suits (I recommend- Bonds Newborn Wondersuits in particular the ones that zip up as they make life so much simpler. Who wants to be buttoning up an all in one every few hours after a nappy change!)
- 2 x long sleeve snap crutches
- 1 x coming home outfit (for those who want their newborn to come home in style)
- 25 x newborn nappies (This is my recommendation for an average four day stay as a newborn can go through up too twelve per day. You may choose to pack more or less depending if you choose to use disposable or reusable nappies. For my son I used Huggies and found they worked well without any leakage)
- 20 x nappy bags (great for disguising the smell of those first newborn poos)
- 2 x bunny rugs
- 2 x muslin wraps (I recommend- Modern Burlap Swaddles as they offer organic cotton which is soft on newborn skin)
- 1 x warm blanket (especially if your baby is due in the winter)
- 1 x baby towel first babies first bath (generally a midwife will assist you in giving your newborn their first bath on day two or three)
- 1 x soft baby face washer
- Cotton wool- perfect to use in the bath for gently cleaning your newborn and for drying umbilical cord
- Body wash and lotions (I recommend- Ecostore products as they are natural and gentle on babies skin)
- Bottles and formula- if you plan on bottle feeding ensure you pack the essentials
- 1 x Dummy (just in case)
- Bepanthen or similar
Birth Partner’s Hospital Bag
Your birth partner will generally take a verbal beating during labor if your the vocal type and this can be tiring! Some hospitals will allow partners to stay overnight while others will only allow partners to stay until approximately 8-9pm. If they have been approved to stay with you overnight it is important to pack those essentials although here is a list that may help them get through the labor:
- Change of clothes- babies vomit and babies poo and accidents happen. Ensure your partner has packed an extra pair of clothes because generally he/she will need them.
- Deodorant and any other necessary toiletries he/she may need
- Swimmers if your partner will be assisting you with a water birth
- Money- to of course be at your service (trust me labor cravings are actually real, for me it was a banana muffin!)
- Snacks and drinks- your partner will get hungry too! Labor can last a long time.
- Pillow- hospital couches can be quite hard and sitting for a long time is always better in comfort.
- Own mobile phone and charger
- Toys for older sibling- often siblings can become bored or get jealous of the new bundle of joy. Buying them something special such as a new toy can occupy them during the labor and delivery.
Leaving the Hospital
- Rear facing car seat- ensure you have had your babies car seat properly installed in the early third trimester. Sunshades are advised as well to ensure the comfort of your newborn. I recommend also keeping a back up change of clothes, nappies, wipes and blankets in the back of your car to ensure you are always prepared.
- Pram- some hospitals prefer you wheel your newborn to the car opposed to carrying your new bundle of joy. Have your pram packed in the boot ready for your new son or daughter.