It's in the bag
An important step in preparing for your baby’s arrival is getting your hospital bag together. Here is a handy checklist of items the Little Treasures team found useful to have, along with some extras.
Your bag should contain all you need for your labour and the few days following. Conventional wisdom holds that you should have the basics packed and ready by the front door a month before your due date, to be on the safe side. Everyday items like your toothbrush and phone can be grabbed as you leave. (And this is not the time for your partner to make his usual jokes about women not being able to pack light.)
- Toiletries - Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and lip balm, plus a body wash/soap, shampoo and conditioner, comb/brush, cleanser and moisturiser. Make-up if you want, too. Having your own products when you have a shower will make you feel much better.
- Hair ties - Even if you hair isn’t very long, you may want it off your face and the back of your neck during labour.
- Pillow/pillow case - Having your own can be much more comfortable than using hospital ones.
- Face cloths - For making cool compresses for your face and neck.
- Pyjamas/nightie - It pays to wear the hospital nightie while giving birth (as it will likely get dirty) and then have your own PJs or nightie to change into later. Make sure they button through the front so you can breastfeed more easily.
- Warm socks - Feet can get very cold during labour.
- Spare pants - A multi-pack of inexpensive knickers to wear during your hospital stay is very handy, so you can just throw them away after you've worn them.
- Birth plan - Opinion can be divided on how useful these are. Essentially, a birth plan is an outline of how you would ideally like your labour and birth to proceed and can cover everything from what kind of pain relief you’re prepared to consider, through to who you want to cut the umbilical cord. You may never refer to it during labour, but it can help to ensure you and your partner and/or caregivers are clear on what you do and don’t want. Make sure it’s written down well ahead of your due date when you have time to find out more about the various procedures and pain relief options. Bear in mind also that your ideal birth scenario can change totally once you’re in the thick of labour, and that’s fine too.
- TENS machine - (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) – a small battery-powered device that sends gentle electrical impulses to your skin through electrode pads on your back. The pulses are designed to help your body release endorphins and block the pain messages to help combat labour pains. They are easy to use and can be hired through a variety of websites.
- Massage oil/essential oils - If you want to use aromatherapy during labour try clary sage and lavender (an electric essential oil burner is useful).
- Rescue Remedy - This homeopathic remedy can be used safely during pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding. It is used traditionally to relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and agitation and bring a sense of focus and calm. It can also be handy for partners and caregivers who are supporting you.
- Snacks - Handy for you and your partner. Muesli bars, snack logs, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate etc.
- Drink bottle and/or boxes of juice - It's important to stay well hydrated during labour.
- Toilet paper - Hospital toilet paper can be harsher than what you’re used to at home, so taking your own roll could be more comfortable if you’re sore.
- Little tissue packs and wet wipes - Handy for wiping hands and face.
- Maternity pads - These are heavy-duty sanitary pads. The hospital will provide you with some but you could also take extra to be on the safe side.
- Feeding bra - Once your milk comes in (usually day 2/3) you may be glad of the extra support for your swollen, sometimes quite uncomfortable breasts. If you don’t want a bra under your nightie then try a maternity camisole, which provides extra support.
- Breast pads - You may find you leak between feeds. Disposable pads are easy to use in hospital (washable re-usable versions are also available for when you’re at home if you prefer).
- Nipple cream - Great for soothing sore, cracked nipples between feeds.
- Notebook and pen - Useful for recording feed times.
- Earplugs - Ideal for helping you sleep in case you and baby are sharing a room afterwards with another new mum and baby.
- Sleeping mask - To help you sleep during the day. You may also want to pack an extra one for your partner in case they’re trying to sleep too.
- Jandals - For wearing in the shower.
- Camera - Use your phone camera or bring a digital one to capture the early moments. Make sure you bring a spare memory card and the power cord for charging.
- Clothes to wear home - Or your partner can bring these in later.
- Money - Cash for parking or vending machines.
- iPod and speakers - If you want music during labour.
- Phone - And charger
- Clothes - 2-3 changes including a hat, booties and onesies. A swaddle or wrap is also useful to have.
- Blanket - You may want to bring a blanket to tuck around baby if it's cold when you're leaving the hospital.
- Nappies - The hospital will supply some but you might like to have your own stocks on hand when you need them.