It's never too late to start gathering all the essentials that you'll need on birthing day, for labour and for returning home once the baby is born.
Today, let’s brush up on the birth bag essentials and discover what you’ll need on delivery day. Plus some maternity bag extras that you may not have thought of yet.
When should I pack my hospital bag?
Even if you're not planning to deliver in a hospital, you may be required to attend for tests or unexpected events, so it's wise to have a bag packed and ready to go around the 36-week mark of your pregnancy.
- Check with the staff at your hospital or birthing centre on their policies of what you can bring in.
- Leave jewellery, large amounts of cash and other valuables at home - keep it to the essentials.
- Consider what you'll need for the hours immediately after your baby is born, too, and for any stays on the postnatal ward that might be required.
What should I pack for labour?
Paperwork: Bring your Medicare card, health insurance details (if you have private insurance) and any hospital paperwork. You'll also want to bring your birth plan and antenatal card.
Clothing: Bring comfortable clothes to wear, like an old nighty or an oversized t-shirt to wear during labour. It's likely to get a bit messy, so don't wear anything special or restrictive. You want to be as comfortable as possible!
Consider bringing a robe or dressing gown. If you end up pacing up and down the corridors during the early stages of labour, dressing gowns are ideal for covering yourself. Hospitals are generally warm, so a lightweight robe is best. Dark colours will also help hide any stains, if that's a concern.
Slide-on slippers are an essential - or thongs, if you're not a fan of warm feet. If you tend to get cold feet, bring a pair of socks to wear during labour. It's a small detail that can bring comfort.
Extras: If you'll be using a birth ball to help you find different labour positions and manage the pain of contractions, bring it - otherwise, your hospital may be able to provide you with one.
To keep your energy levels up bring some snacks and drinks for during and after the birth. Most hospitals have snacks and drinks available, but it can be extra comforting to have some personal favourites on hand. Slow-release, carb-packed snacks are recommended to keep you energised, like fruit and unsalted nuts, muesli bars and popcorn. Sports drinks can also be great for a boost of energy and extra hydration if you find your mouth getting dry from feeling nervous.
And when it comes to hydration, don't forget about lip balm - your lips can get dry from nervousness and the warm air of hospital wards.
You may want to bring books, game apps on your phone or magazines to help you relax or pass the time whilst waiting. Anything that stimulates your mind and keeps you focused is great, such as.
Creature comforts: If you've got a favourite pillow or body pillow, we strongly recommend bringing it - hospital pillows aren't always designed for comfort and the less you have to worry about, the better! If your hair bothers you when it gets in the way, also bring some headbands, elastic bands and bobby pins to keep it out of your face. It can be a good idea to bring some basic toiletries too, in case you'd like to freshen up during a long labour.
If you'll be using natural pain relief like a TENS machine or a heat pack, make sure to bring this too, as hospitals won't usually supply this for you. Make sure to check with your hospital first on what they allow you to bring.
Finally, your favourite tunes - a Spotify playlist of music that soothes you, makes you happy or distracts you is always a good idea! And don't forget a small Bluetooth speaker, if you'd rather not listen on headphones or your phone.
What should I pack for after the birth?
Clothing: First thing's first, you'll need a going home outfit. Think loose, comfortable clothes that will give your tummy plenty of time and space to be free of restriction.
If you plan to breastfeed, bring two or three nursing bras. You'll also want some nipple cream to reduce chafing, and some maternity pads too. And in terms of underwear, stick to the old pairs that never get worn anymore, cheap underwear or disposable underwear. Don't bring your best knickers, as they'll get ruined. Big cotton undies can be helpful if you've had a c-section, as they won't rub the wound.
Extras: An eye mask and some earplugs are essentials for many new mums who struggle to sleep on a bright and noisy hospital ward. You may also want to bring a notepad or note-taking app to track any questions that you may have, so you don't forget to ask the doctors and nurses.
For your new baby: Two to three sleep suits for your baby is a good start - but make sure to pack more if you plan to be in hospital for more than a couple of days. Don't forget some soft booties and mittens, and a hat to keep your newborn's head nice and warm when they're not soundly asleep. You may also wish to bring an extra outfit for the trip home.
You'll also want a baby blanket, some disposable nappies (bring as many as you can fit!) and some cotton wool or wipes, to go gently on your newborn's delicate skin during nappy changes. Many new mums also rate their number one essential for their newborn's baby bag as burp cloths, for mopping up any milk your baby brings up.
And finally - although it won’t fit in your maternity bag - make sure to avoid any last minute headaches by having your baby’s car seat fitted and installed, ready to go long before the delivery day.
Remember, preparation is key - so the earlier you can start planning your birth bag essentials, the better! Many hospitals will also provide you with a maternity bag essentials checklist at your antenatal appointments, and these will include specifics about what your hospital will allow you to bring in, so it’s well worth asking them for a copy of their checklist, too.
The right preparation and having all the essentials on hand in your maternity bag will ensure your labour goes as smoothly as possible!
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