Hospital Bag: what to take to your birth
My birthing doula clients are often asking me what they should pack in their bag for the hospital. I usually suggest that they don’t just take one bag, and instead pack several… One for mum, one for baby, one full of snacks (you can see a blog post I previously shared specially on this here) and one for her partner (if she has one).
Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll need, which is why I personally believe you should take more rather than less as I wouldn’t want to be without something I felt I needed or wanted. Similarly, if you are missing something and are in a the city (near lots of local shops), or if you are birthing close to home, then your partner or a friend / family member could also duck out to grab it for you (or you could request, or better, delegate this to them as a task).
Just as important is when you pack your bag… as we don’t know when your baby is coming, it could be good to have this ready to go by 36 weeks gestation.
And so writing this blog post is motivated by you, and for you.
BAG FOR MUM
Your handbag - this usually includes your phone (with music playlists and visualisations), wallet, identification, yellow card (or pregnancy medical notes), keys, headphones, lip balm… and ideally it should have two printed and signed copies of your birth plan too
Water bottle - with a built in straw function
Medication - anything you usually take (and make sure your medical care provider knows about this and is updated whenever you take anything they didn’t give you)
Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair products (shampoo, conditioner, brush, elastics… maybe even dry shampoo!), maternity pads (more than you think you need - you can use these at home later too), breast pads, nipple cream (like Lansinoh), face wash and creams (I’m a big fan of the facial wet wipes)
Bluetac - it’s super handy… whether it’s used to put your birth plan on the wall, squeeze in your hand like a stress ball, play with as a distraction, or as a substitute bath plug in labour, this is always a helpful item to have
Heat packs - ideally two different kinds: a hot water bottle and a microwaveable one (just in case the hot water or microwave are not working at the hospital, then you have the other option)
Stool softeners - the last thing you need after birthing a baby is to have to birth a stool as well… if you can keep stools soft so that it doesn’t take much work to push, it will be a big help for your recovery. Something like prunes might be enough for you, though I personally am a fan of Osmolax or Movicol. You should definitely discuss this with your care provider or pharmacist
Ural - or anything that can help urine to be more alkaline so it stings less when passing if you had any tearing… though again, please discuss this with your care provider or pharmacist
Charger - for your phone, camera, speakers or any other devices you plan to bring (often an extension cord or powerboard can come in handy too)
Panadol / Nurofen - this may be helpful after you’ve had your baby. Sometimes the hospital staff can get very busy and it may take time for them to bring you pain relief if you need it. You may find it helpful to have something ready to go in your bag, though again, please discuss this with your care provider and if you do take it, make sure you let them know
Magnesium oil spray - this can be great to help your muscles recover post birth. You can find this at most health food stores and some pharmacies, or I stock it too (they are roughly $20 - you’re welcome to get in touch to find out more). I like to spray it on in the evening and leave it on for about 20-30 minutes, then wash it off… you could do this in the morning if you prefer morning showers too
Soft toilet paper - you may wish to bring a roll or two of luxurious toilet paper… sometimes the ones the hospital provides are scratchy and harsh, which is not ideal straight after birth…
Towel - same as above: you may feel slightly more pampered after a shower and drying off with a luxurious towel rather than a tiny or scratchy one provided by the hospital
Favourite pillow - if you’re like me, I can only sleep well with my pillow from home. It comes with me on holidays or anywhere I go if I’m not sleeping at home. This may also be a comfort feature for you to boost your oxytocin levels during labour (hopefully it won’t get soiled but just in case bring a spare pillow case)… I even suggest bringing an eye mask which can be great for labour, or post birth if you’re sharing a room (in which case, ear plugs might be good too)
Hair dryer - not just for your hair… you may wish to use this on the cool setting on your vagina after urinating or showering to help aid your recovery post birth. I often suggest a post birth refreshing spray too (and have these available for sale, or as a gift to some of my birthing clients)
Clothes - socks (lots of them! warm feet are important), maternity bras or singlets, big black undies (granny style - buy in bulk at Kmart or Big W and maybe throw away after…), a few loose t-shirts or button up tops, a warm jumper or two (I like zip up hoodies), loose comfy pants (trackies or PJs are great, or a larger softer pair of yoga style leggings can be good too), SRC recovery shorts if you feel up to it (though some of my clients have just used spanx) as it helps bring your abdominal muscles closer together more quickly, a pair of thongs as well as slip on shoes that you can wear with your socks, dressing gown, long nightie or button up dress, and an outfit for you to wear home from hospital.
Colouring in - I often suggest to my clients to bring some pencils and colouring in pages as it can be a great distraction during labour and be like a mini project. You can use your bluetac from above to stick them on the wall too!
Tens machine - I strongly suggest renting one of these for your birth, and be sure to make sure you have some spare batteries too!
BAG FOR BABY
Nappies - lots of them… most hospitals do not provide this. Usually in the newborn days (ie the first 4-6 weeks), you will likely use 10-12 nappies a day
Wipes - just as important as the nappies (I love these bamboo ones from New Beginnings that are dry and you wet them yourself)
Nappy cream - helpful to prevent nappy rash
Clothes - singlets x3, onesies x3, beanie x2, socks x3 pairs
Muslin wraps x3
Blanket - for going home
Car seat - or capsule installed in your car
Moisturiser - some babies get very dry skin
Nail clippers or scissors - depending on how long you are staying in hospital, your baby may need their nails trimmed… though some mums are able to bite their bubba’s nails off (this isn’t as bad as it sounds!)
BAG FOR YOUR PARTNER / other birth support
Toiletries - the usual suspects… toothbrush and paste, hairbrush, shaver etc… whatever you think you might need in case of a long labour, or if you’re able to stay overnight once bub has arrived
Clothes - a change of clothes or two… definitely trackies and a zip up hoodie (which is great for skin to skin with your bub), but also spare underwear, socks, slip on shoes, PJs, hoodie etc…
Electronics - phone, camera, chargers, etc…
Wallet - with ID and some coins (for vending machines)
Water bottle - your own bottle
BAG OF SNACKS
I’ve previously written a blog post on this bag as a topic all by itself. You can check it out here. And… What you don’t eat during labour you can have during your immediate postpartum recovery time - often hospital food isn’t especially nourishing or tasty… This bag of snacks can be particularly handy for your partner or other birth support team members during your labour as it can be a long time for them too. Best of all, anything you don’t eat at the hospital, you can take home and have ready to go at home too.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDERd
You may like some more comforts from home - eg a picture of your mum, or your puppy… some people like battery operated tea light candles or fairy lights to give their room more atmosphere and help boost the oxytocin hormone
This blog post with my immediate postpartum care tips may be helpful for you
If you don’t have a good doula supporting you, you may like to bring your own essential oils for aromatherapy and possibly a diffuser (your doula may be likely to bring other amazing support items like a comb, homeopathics kit, rebozo, head massage tool (aka orgasmatron) and more…)
Any other support items you would like eg some birth affirmation cards (here are some available for download)
I hope you find this blog post useful. As always, please feel free to forward and share with friends, or comment below if something in particular strikes you as especially helpful, or get in touch if you feel something is missing, and I can add it to the list.
About Essential Me
Hi, I'm Amanda. I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor. I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you. Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here. I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit. Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x