You’ve reached the last month of your pregnancy and the countdown is on. Whether you’re planning a c-section or natural birth, now is the time to get your hospital bag ready.
It can be daunting knowing what to pack, especially if you’re a first time mum. It’s easy to over-pack, which is why we’ve put together this baby hospital bag checklist of 21absolute "must-have" items. If you need to stay in hospital longer than expected, your partner can always bring you extra items from home if needed.
We recommend packing a separate bag for labour. This way your partner won’t have to rummage through your clothes to find things when you really need them.
Keep this checklist handy as you're packing your bags:
BAG FOR LABOUR
Loose T-shirt or nightie to wear during labour. Take something old, as it will get messy!
Heat pack to help manage pain - one that you can attach to your back or tummy is fantastic so your hands are kept free. You may also want to consider hiring a TENS machine to take the edge off those early contractions.
Lip balm - you’ll be surprised how much your lips dry out during labour with all that heavy breathing.
Soothing music. Bring a small portable speaker and load your smartphone with your favourite playlist. (Don't skimp, you may need several hours of music). If you're planning a hypnobirth, you may opt for relaxing music or affirmations. Or you may you prefer some uplifting tunes to dance that baby down!
Snacks and drinks. You’ll be thankful for some energy drinks and snacks in those early hours of labour. Many mums swear by lollie snakes!
LED candles and essential oils to soften the room and help you relax. Birthing suites can be very clinical.
Hairband to keep your hair off your face.
A bendy straw - essential! When those contractions are coming hard and fast, you need to conserve energy and stay hydrated. Rather than fumbling around for a water bottle, get your your support person to put your drink to your mouth (grecian-goddess-style).
Bathers for your partner to wear if you want them to help you in the shower or bath (the midwives will appreciate it).
Hand mirror if you want to watch baby’s head crowning and see her being born (not for the faint of heart!)
A camera to capture your new baby’s journey earth-side and precious first moments of life. Don’t forget the charger.
HOSPITAL BAG FOR MUM
Nipple cream - breastfeeding doesn’t come easy for everyone and your nipples can be sore and chapped after just a couple of feeds. Lansinoh will be your new best friend, and it doubles as a nourishing lip balm.
Nursing bra and shirts with easy access for breastfeeding
Ear plugs and eye mask. Try to sleep as much as you can in hospital, because once you’re home it'll be all systems go! An eye mask and earplugs will prove invaluable, especially if you’re in a shared room. Hospitals are noisy and you'll have nurses coming in to check on you all through the night.
Coffee mug with a lid to keep your cuppa warm while you’re feeding bub.
Comfy, dark-coloured undies. You’ll be wearing big maternity pads but there may be leakages, so pack some extra pairs. We recommend packing a few “granny undies” in case you have an emergency c-section... the waistband should be high enough to avoid your incision.
Snacks (again)! Pack some healthy and filling snacks for after labour to help tide you over between meals. Lactation cookies are a great high-energy option - breastfeeding makes you very hungry! You may want to pack your favourite tea or drink, as hospital supplies are pretty basic.
Maternity sanitary pads - pack at least 2 pairs for all the postpartum bleeding.
Essentials - pack whatever you would for a night or two away from home: toiletries, glasses/contacts, tissues, phone and charger, thongs / slippers, and clothes (loose-fitting).
WHAT TO PACK FOR BABY
Your baby doesn't need much at first - just milk, warmth and love. Most hospitals provide nappies, basic baby clothing and blankets to use during your stay. Check with your hospital or birthing centre first to be sure. We recommend packing:
Stretchy swaddle - babies love being swaddled. Ask the nurses and midwives to show you how to swaddle baby while you're in hospital. This will be invaluable once you’re home.
Going home outfit for baby. Bring a couple of outfits in different sizes for your baby's trip home. You may you have a special outfit that you’d like to photograph bub in during their first days.
Avoid bringing valuables including jewellery and lots of money.
Have your bag packed by 36 weeks, just in case things kick off earlier than expected.
Put a checklist on top of your bag of last-minute things you need to throw in on the day, such as your phone and charger. You don’t want to forget anything important in the excitement of the moment.
Over to you
We'd love to hear about your experiences. Is there anything you wish you'd taken to hospital?