As well as “do you know what you are having?” and “have you decided on a name yet?”, another question you can expect in your third pregnancy trimester is “have you packed your bag yet?”. Most often posed by well-meaning mums who were caught out.
Hospital bag checklist: 35 essentials for labour
If you’re in your third trimester, by now you will have likely thought about the birth you would like and maybe have written a birth plan with your midwife – and fingers crossed that is the plan that happens. Whether you have a VBAC, elective C-section, emergency C-section or water birth, your hospital bag will need to be packed well for you to make your time in hospital as comfortable as possible. Aside from the essentials, consider if you want anything specific for your labour. This may include: music playlists, massage or aromatherapy oils, a handheld massager, battery operated fairy lights, LED candles, a TENS pain-relief machine or your favourite pillow. Most labour wards, in the UK at least, provide birthing balls and hospitals also provide towels.
You will be asked in hospital how you intend you feed your baby. Whilst breastfeeding is recommended, if you are choosing formula you should take bottles and formula powder or pre-made cartons.
Try to have your bags ready to go from around 36 weeks. As there isn’t usually a lot of room around your hospital bed, you will want items close to hand, and it will likely be your birthing partner fishing things out, it’s a good idea to pack one bag for labour and another for when your baby has arrived. Seeing all the bits you intend to use during and after labour can be daunting, but knowing you are prepared will help you feel more at ease with the next milestone, especially if you follow this list.
- Maternity notes and birthing plan
- Pyjamas/ long t-shirt x2
- Slippers or slipper socks
- Lip balm
- Nipple balm
- Snacks – think energy food
- Still sports drinks – for even more energy and hydration
- Entertainment – books / tablet etc
- Hair bands / clips
- Hat and blanket for baby
After labour bag
- Pack of nappies – judge size needed from projected birth weight of baby
- Wipes x 2 packs / cotton pads
- Muslin squares x 3
Clothes for baby:
- Sleepsuits x 3
- Vests x 3 (long sleeve unless it is very hot weather)
- Socks x 2 pairs
- Scratch mitts / Sleepsuits with integrated mitts
- Going home outfit
- Back up going home outfit (your baby will poo a lot in the first few days)
- Clothes – maternity / loose fitting clothes
- Bed clothes (easy to nurse from if you intend to breastfeed)
- Dressing gown
- Nursing bra (if applicable)
- Breast pads (your milk will come in after 2-4 days)
- Comfy old knickers (a high waistband will be needed if you have a C-section)
- Pack of thick maternity towels
- Shampoo / shower gel (this will be provided if you have a C-section)
- Moisturiser and cleanser/face wipes
- Make-up (if applicable)
- Eye mask and ear plugs (the wards can be light and noisy at night)
- Formula and bottles (if applicable)
Also don’t forget to keep Baby’s car seat in your car for the last few weeks of pregnancy, and ensure both you and your birth partner are confident with buckling it in safely.
Download a copy of the checklist here. Enjoy packing and remember, feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement is totally natural. And if you do manage to forget something or have to stay longer than intended, that’s what your birth partner is there for!
If you feel like reading some information on pregnancy and birth, check out our blog post ”Your Guide to Pregnancy & Birth”.
Article by Hannah James