Oh the joys of packing your hospital bag... It took me a while to pack mine and the only reason I eventually did was thanks to the constant nagging from my other half. I simply got tired of the “Is it done yet?” questions, text messages and emails – yes emails!
Searching ‘What to pack in my hospital bag?” returned an overwhelming number of checklists and blogs with a long list of items that really baffled me because quite frankly I thought they were a load of rubbish. Most of them seemed unrealistic for use before, during or after birthing a little human.
I’ve compiled my list of what I packed in my hospital bag, (I had 2 bags, one for me and my diaper bag for baby). It’s also a good idea to have your birth partner pack your hospital bag with you, because it’s very likely that they’re going to be the one navigating the contents in labour - and if they don’t know the difference between a sanitary/maternity/breast pad, you might be in a bit of trouble. If you have a straightforward birth, you aren't likely be in hospital for a very long period after the birth, and if you need to stay longer, your partner or family can always bring you more supplies. I was in there for 72 hours in total, so use that as an indicator of how much you ACTUALLY need. So here goes:
I packed a few T-shirts and tank tops and some yoga pants - these were what I usually lounged in and found most comfortable. I ended up having to spend almost 2 days in the labour ward BEFORE I had the baby and I lived in my t-shirts and yoga pants. Tank tops/a sports bra can also be good if you are planning to use the birthing pool, which was my intention. The yoga pants were great for recovery because it was really comfy and didn’t irritate my C-section scar. I packed a few pairs of socks because hospital floors are just icky and a pair of flip-flops, which I used to walk around in and in the shower. A nightie/baggy top is also useful for overnight stays, and one that is suitable for breastfeeding should you choose to.
All of the little necessities: face and body wash, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush. I also packed toilet paper which I did actually use as it was much better than the one on the ward. I also didn’t pack any makeup because it’s not something I wear on a daily basis and I doubt I would be bothered to make the effort (no Kate Middleton flex here). I also packed my towel and was glad I did, the labour ward didn’t have many, and the ones they had just looked thin and rough.
Snacks and Drinks
It can get so hot and stuffy on the ward or birth centre, so drinking plenty of water and energy drinks can keep you refreshed and hydrated during labour. And I know you probably wont feel like eating, but it helped to have a few energy bars/chocolate/dried fruit to hand to keep my energy levels up. After labour you're likely to feel hungry and there isn't always food readily available, so bear this in mind!
Necessities for after the birth:
Brief-Style Maternity Pads These were a LIFESAVER! They are the best option when you are losing a lot of blood, and I personally found them to be fuss-free. I started using these immediately after birth – they were really comfortable and so convenient. I didn’t have to worry about leaking and I just tossed them in the bin as you would with regular pads.
Maternity Pads and black cotton knickers - Some of my friends have said they prefer pads after birth. If you do, wear underwear that is breathable and that you don't cherish as you will probably end up throwing them away if you experience leaks. To be fair, I did not bleed for as long as others due to having had the C-section so I think I would have definitely used a lot more pads if I had experienced a vaginal birth.
Breast Pads - Your milk doesn't come in until a few days after birth, however you may experience some leaking so it is better to be prepared. You will only need a few, so no need to pack the whole box!
And now for the *BONUS ITEM*
Perineal Cleansing Bottle - It bewilders me why the Peri Bottle isn't widely recognised as a hospital bag essential by mums-to-be. Probably because they are not readily used or available in the UK. It was a definite #labourhack for me! I used it to cleanse, but you will most definitely benefit for the first toilet trip after pushing...(we'll talk more about that in another post). If you experience vaginal tearing, haemorrhoids, itching, swelling or just tenderness – a peri bottle is the solution, you'll be using it for the weeks following too. Just fill it up with warm water and rinse the necessary areas. Thank me later.
So which camp are you in?
Bags perfectly packed and ready at the door - one for baby, one for you and one for your partner... or are you likely to be frantically stuffing the 'hospital bag essentials' into a bag and hoping for the best (at 39/40 weeks!)?