When should I get my hospital bag ready?
It's generally recommended that you pack your hospital bag when you reach the 36 week milestone to make sure you have everything you need to hand when baby decides he or she is ready to arrive.
The last thing you'll be wanting to do when you go into labour is packing and picking up last minute essentials so having your bag ready in advance can help you to feel in control of the situation. Even if you're planning a home birth having everything in one place will make things far less stressful on 'b-day'.
When packing your bag you should try to include the following, however it's also important to think about what will help you to feel comfortable and in control as you bring your baby into the world.
Different hospitals and birthing centres have different rules on what they'll allow in their labour suites and what they'll provide for you so it's always a good idea to check this out before you get your hospital bag ready for when you go into labour.
What to pack for you during labour
What to pack for your partner
- 1 x birth plan - This is something you shouldn't be without. Make sure that you and your partner are happy with its contents before the big day.
- 1 x old t-shirt - Things can get quite messy during labour so an old but comfortable nightdress or baggy t-shirt is ideal.
- 1 x dressing gown - Especially useful if you're planning an active labour.
- 1 x pair of slippers - For when you're moving around on a cold hospital floor.
- 1 x pair of socks - Just in case your feet get cold.
- 1 x bottle of massage oil - To help your partner massage your back during labour.
- 1 x TENS machine - Not all hospitals provide this form of pain relief so make sure you have one packed if it's something you'd like to use.
- Books & magazines - Labour can be a long process and you're likely to experience some 'down time' so take something to keep you entertained.
- 1 x portable stereo - Music can help you to feel relaxed so a portable stereo (try to find one that's battery operated) loaded with your favourite music can be really useful.
- Toiletries - Anything that will help you to feel more comfortable - deodorant, lip balm, face wipes, moisturiser, tissues and a water spray are all good to include.
What to pack for you after the birth
- 1 x watch - This is for timing contractions so make sure it has a second hand.
- 1 x change of clothes - Comfortable shoes, a clean t-shirt and a jumper are all useful to have. Make sure you pack a pair of swimming trunks for your partner to wear if you're planning a water birth.
- 1 x camera - To record the special moments after your baby's birth.
- Snacks - Food and drink for you both is a must to help keep your energy up (and stop you having to put up with hospital food!).
- Change - A hospital must-have for car parks and phone calls.
- Contact numbers - A 'call sheet' can be useful to make sure you share your happy news with everyone that needs to know.
What to pack for baby
- 2 x open fronted nightdresses - A nightie will be most comfortable after delivery and will be ideal for breastfeeding.
- 1 x going home outfit - Something loose and comfortable like a tracksuit will be best. It's unlikely you'll fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes right away as it will take a while for your tummy to go down so make sure you take something you know will fit.
- 2 x nursing bras - Choose well fitting, soft cotton varieties that have 'easy access' drop cups while you get the hang of things.
- 1 x pack breast pads - An essential for when your milk comes in.
- 2 x packs maternity pads - Disposable maternity pants are also available.
- 3 x pairs old pants - Things can be quite messy after the birth so bring old but comfortable or disposable maternity pants to wear.
- Toiletries - Whatever you feel you'll need to make you feel human again - a hand mirror can also be useful.
- 1 x towel - A bath towel is the best size to include.
- 1 x pair ear plugs - You may end up on a noisy ward!
What are your hospital bag must haves? Why not share your questions and opinions with other members on the AskBaby forums?
- 1 x infant car seat - It can be a good idea to fit this in your car as your due date approaches so that it's all set up correctly for your baby's journey home, giving you one less thing to think about.
- 3 x babygroes - 'Newborn' sized sleepsuits will be best for the first few weeks.
- 3 x vests - Choose a cotton variety with an envelope neck and poppers underneath.
- 1 x going home outfit - You'll need something warm for baby to wear on their first outing.
- 1 x hat, mittens & booties - To keep your baby snuggly both inside the hospital and out.
- 3 x muslin squares - Essential for feeding and mopping up dribbles.
- 1 x pack nappies - Either reusable or disposable depending on your preference.
- 1 x pack nappy sacks - Odour neutralising varieties are usually best.
- 1 x pack cotton wool - A must have for those first nappy changes.
- 1 x baby blanket - If baby is due in winter make sure this is extra warm.