The nursery is decorated, the baby names are short-listed and the teeny-tiny newborn clothes are washed and waiting. All that’s left now is to make sure your hospital bag is ready for the dash to the maternity wing. But what to take? Don’t panic, Babyology is on the case. Here’s our essential guide to what to pack in your hospital bag for when it’s time to have your baby.
Unless you’re having a planned c-section, most maternity hospitals – and this goes for public and private – don’t provide a hospital gown and instead expect you to wear your own clothes to labour and birth in. Of course, you can pack your partner’s oldest, daggiest, most worn out t-shirt – labour can get pretty messy, after all – but there’s nothing wrong too with opting for something a little nicer, especially if you’re a first-time mum with a sense of occasion. A Designer Mamas birthing gown is a nice addition and just like a regular hospital gown, these snap button at the back and shoulder to allow easy access for any medical procedures.
You’ll want to get out of that gown or tee and into something else before all those visitors descend to ooh and aah over your new bundle. Snug Jugs are glam and comfortable – a win-win in my book – and just right for the post-delivery hospital stay when you spend just as much time sleeping during the day as you do at night. Slip a pretty but comfortable cardigan over the top and you’ll be ready for anything, whether it’s receiving visitors, resting, learning the breastfeeding ropes or just snuggling with your newborn.
If you prefer to put on some day clothes rather than laze about in pyjamas, then breastfeeding friendly clothes are a must. Try Milk and Love for a collection of comfortable tops and bottoms for those post-partum days, that are nice enough to receive visitors in. And don’t forget to pack something to come home in, but do leave the pre-pregnancy skinny jeans alone and opt for something comfy, as it will take several weeks still for your uterus to shrink to normal.
Don’t forget singlets and a few jumpsuits or nightgowns for baby as well as something special for them to wear home. Unless you’re expecting a whopper, you might like to opt for at least a few things in 0000 or even 00000 size – those newborns are really usually rather tiny! This adorable selection of beautiful jumpsuits will be a good place to start.
Maternity bras will come into their own now for women who plan to breastfeed. You’ll want to pack at least two. Make sure they have easy drop-down clips and throw in a pack or two of breast pads for when your milk comes in. I found Pigeon to be the most comfortable and absorbent when breastfeeding my three children and they were the least bulky under clothing too.
You might think that there’s no room in a labour ward for beauty products. Not so. All that labouring takes its toll, so you’ll be glad of a decent lip balm and even some hand cream to help you feel human through the whole exhausting experience. Afterwards, a nursing balm to soothe sore nipples for breastfeeding mums will be crucial (here’s an important tip, breastfeeding ALWAYS hurts at the start, no matter how many babies you’ve had. If you can grit your teeth and push through it for those first weeks, you’ll be so glad you did). You might also like to pack some baby bath wash in case your hospital doesn’t provide it. Mambino Organics have a beautiful range of skincare products for mums and babies, including a calendula nursing balm, lip balm and gentle baby wash.
Don’t forget a camera to capture those all-important first moments after birth. In between contractions, take a look at our posts on birth photography for some ideas! Some people like to pack scented candles and music to set the mood in the labour suite – feel free to add those too or create a soothing playlist on your phone if you think it might help you relax.
Wraps are terribly important in the early days because babies are used to being cocooned in your womb, so make sure to bring two or three, depending on the length of your hospital stay. I can almost guarantee that every midwife you encounter will show you a different way to swaddle your baby, but you’ll be a pro in no time – especially with the amazing range of different swaddles on the market. If your hospital doesn’t supply nappies, throw in a pack of newborn-sized nappies too. Disposables are probably easier while in hospital.
Of course, now that your baby is here, you’re going to want to shout it to the world. Our ideas on birth announcements will help you do just that from the comfort of your hospital bed.
If you have older children, it’s a good idea to pack a little present for them inside your bag that can be “from the baby” when they come to visit you and their new brother or sister in hospital. This is especially useful if your older children are still toddlers because the whole getting-a-new-sibling experience can be rather daunting and confusing for them. A baby doll or cuddly creature of their own to care for, like these lovelies from Blabla, can put a nervous toddler at ease and make the transition easier. Craft kits like these from Jam and Soda will keep preschoolers and older kids occupied for hours.
Finally, when it’s time to go home, you’re going to want to make sure that you have an appropriate infant capsule or car seat. We recommend having the seat professionally fitted to ensure that it is installed correctly. You will remember this first drive home forever!
(baby in suitcase image at top courtesy Smarty Pants Photography)