As your due date creeps closer you will be starting to think about what you need to be ready for birth and this includes your hospital bag.
Even if your plan is to birth your baby at home it is worth preparing a lot of similar things as you will still use them and it’s easier if they are all ready in one place. Plus if you do need to transfer into hospital for any reason you can grab the stuff and go.
For homebirths some people prefer to avoid the language of a ‘hospital bag’ and might prepare baby clothes, nappies, pads etc in a basket or box. If you needed to leave in a hurry you could still throw it all in a bag.
When it comes to packing you might start off with the idea of a large rucksack or a small carry-on size case but once you start writing a list you will probably realise there isn’t going to be space!
You will find a long list lower down and some of things might or might not seem relevant or important for you. If you don’t think it’s something you need – don’t worry! All births are different and everyone’s preferences are different too.
You might have things that you need to pack last minute, like snacks from the fridge or your chargers. Just keep a list of those last minute items so you can easily grab them on the day and be sure you have everything.
When is the right time to start packing?
In a straightforward pregnancy you should aim to have everything ready by 36-37 weeks. Lots of people will start planning and buying bits and pieces from around 32 weeks. If you know there is a greater likelihood of your baby arriving earlier, make sure you are ready a few weeks sooner.
You might choose to keep your bags in the car or by the door. Or it might feel like the bag that has been sitting there ready for a few weeks is taunting you as you wait for your baby to put in an appearance. Maybe you are happier tucking your bag away in a cupboard or spare room.
Here are my 5 top tips for packing your bag
1. Pack together!
The things that you want in labour and immediately after will need to be found by your birth partner. When you suddenly realise you need another hair clip or want the water spritz bottle at 9cm you aren’t going to be rooting around in your bag. Equally the maternity pads and first nappy – you aren’t going anywhere at this point.
Make sure your birth partner knows what is what and where it will be and maybe even when you are likely to need it.
2. Pack more than one bag.
There is no harm in bringing a bag for your things, one for the baby and one for your partner. It will make it much easier to find things and means everyone knows whose snacks are whose! Check the list below for things a birth partner might want to bring, it’s definitely worth them having some things with them as we can’t predict how long they will be with you and they might want to freshen up.
3. Pack in order.
Have a think about what things you are going to want at what stage and pack accordingly. There’s no point having your going home clothes at the top and all your bits and bobs for labour at the bottom. Get everything prepared and then pack it for when you are likely to need it. Lots of people start packing and throw bits in as they buy them which is fine but it’s worth repacking it all a bit more organised once you feel you’ve got everything.
4. Zip Lock Bags.
This is especially good for those who like to be organised! To make things a bit easier you can pack a nappy, cotton wool, vest and sleepsuit in one zip lock bag. Just pull out a bag and you have everything ready. If you have a special first outfit or going home outfit for your baby, make sure your birth partner knows or the bags are clearly labelled.
5. You will have visitors.
You do not need to pack for a week long stay. Unless things are complicated you will be out of hospital within a couple of days of birth (in many cases much sooner) so you only need to pack enough for a couple of days. If you do end up needing a longer stay, someone can bring more underwear, clothes, nappies, pads or anything else you are short of. Make sure you give them anything that can go home too so that you aren’t accumulating too much that you will have to take all in one go when you leave.
What Shall I Pack?
Have I missed something? Let me know what you couldn’t have done without!
Need to get prepared for birth? Come and join an antenatal class https://thedaisyfoundation.com/beth-owen/