What to pack in your hospital bag
Your hospital bag checklist is one of the few things you can control about your birth, so you might as well pack it early to at least give yourself the illusion of being prepared. Pack it up and leave it by the door about three weeks before your due date. We’ve listed everything you’ll need for a vaginal birth, as well as a few added extras for a planned C-section hospital bag. That’s because you’ll probably be in the hospital longer, so might want a few more home comforts. Pack your bag with your partner so they know where everything is when you arrive at the hospital and you're screaming at them to find that thing you need.
There are a few things that might just seem like common sense. Your phone for example. So you can text and call your friends and family and let's face it, probably put a pic up on the gram. Your birthing and maternity notes are must-haves, so put them in a folder and bring them with you. And don’t forget some power – extra-long charging cables can be a bit of a lifesaver post-birth if your movement is limited.
Some things to entertain you
If you end up waiting a while for surgery or aren’t in full labor yet, a book or a magazine might be able to distract you if you're feeling nervous. An audiobook or a podcast is also a great way to take your mind off things. Depending on the situation in the birthing room or theatre, you might also be allowed to have music playing during the birth which can create a calmer atmosphere, so come prepared with a playlist.
After giving birth, lots of mamas can’t believe how hungry they are. And let’s face it, you’ll probably want something to eat that hasn’t come from the hospital canteen. Snacks or a tasty drink will be a welcome treat. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, it might be a good idea to pack a breastfeeding pillow, especially if you've had a C-section so that you can feed your baby in a way that doesn’t touch the C-section incision. Remember to also pack some breast pads and a maternity bra, and maybe even some nipple cream or balm. An omen for what's to come.
Things to wear
During the birth, you’ll probably be in a hospital gown, but take something of your own to change into afterward so you feel more like yourself. After a C-section, you’ll need some high-waisted underwear that won’t come into contact with the area of the incision and a nightgown for at least the first night when you’ll have a catheter fitted and won’t be able to wear pajama bottoms. Big pants definitely won’t go amiss for any new moms, in fact, the bigger the better. Also, pack some socks and some slip-on shoes or slippers, and a nursing bra if you’re planning on breastfeeding. Finally, you’ll need a going-home outfit. Something loose and comfy – no need to pack your glad rags. Unless you want to of course.
Don’t ever feel like you have to brush your hair and apply some moisturizer, but taking just 30 seconds to yourself in the bathroom can really pep you up. And some mamas might even want to put on some make-up. So pack whatever little luxuries you like to make yourself feel better. A calming room or pillow spray can transport you back to your own bed and an eye mask is good, especially on busy wards. Although we can't guarantee you'll get any sleep for the first few nights. (Or months.)
For the baby
A going-home outfit, some newborn nappies, and an installed car seat are really the only three baby essentials. Which makes them seem pretty low maintenance. HAHA. One of the easiest things for newborn babies to wear is a sleep suit that buttons all the way down the front and on both legs. Depending on the time of year your little one is born, most babies will also need a hat. Remember when you put your newborn in the carseat for the journey home, they shouldn't wear any heavy coats or pramsuits.
Your birth plan
A folder with all of your paperwork in
Phone for contacting loved ones and taking photos. Make sure it's charged up!
Extra-long charging cables for all electronics
Book or magazine
Food and snacks
Some slip-on shoes
Nipple balm - ones with high lanolin content can also double up as a lip balm
Going home outfit for mama
High waisted underwear
Shampoo and conditioner
Moisturizer and any other skincare products
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Going home outfit for baby
Installed car seat
Bags packed and ready to go
Although this checklist is long and thorough, you might end up forgetting something, or maybe needing something you hadn’t anticipated. Remember, your partner or a friend will always be able to pop out and get you whatever you need, so there’s no need to worry too much about what you have and haven’t packed. Just be as well prepared as possible so it’s one less thing to think about when the baby arrives and changes your world.