So your due date is getting closer and, together with the little kicks you can feel in your tummy, you might feel a mix of excited, scared, overwhelmed and apprehensive. This is all totally normal. You’re preparing to welcome another member to your family!
When it comes to packing your maternity hospital bag, following these simple guidelines will help make sure your labour experience goes smoothly.
When to Pack a Hospital Bag
Tip 1: Pack Well in Advance
When labour arrives, the LAST thing you want to be doing is running around trying to pack a couple of hospital bags. So it is crucial that you pack well ahead of time – at least 2 months before your due date. Babies can arrive much earlier than expected, and having a well-stocked labour bag, post-birth bag, and baby bag will help ease some worry in the case of that happening.
Tip 2: Make Sure Your Birthing Partner Knows Where Everything Is
If possible, put together your labour bag, post-birth maternity bag, and baby bag with your birthing partner. This will help them feel included in the process and help outline the importance of their role. However, if they are not available for the packing of the bags, make sure you go over the contents in detail before your due date.
Tip 3: Plan Your Route & Contacts
In addition to knowing which hospital you will be delivering at, make sure you are confident in the route you will take to get there. This includes checking parking arrangements in advance.
If you have other children or pets, ensure there is a plan in place to have them looked after with short notice.
Have the phone number for the maternity ward or admissions office stored on your phone and on display in your home. Make sure you know your address and Eircode by heart in case you need to inform an ambulance of your location.
Tip 4: Make Use of Car Space
Labour and recovery rooms are often small, and filling them with too many personal items can hinder the nurses’ and doctors’ abilities to do their jobs. Consider leaving your post-birth maternity bag and other large items (such as a birthing ball) in the car until closer to the time when they are needed. Of course, you still want those items to be close, so be sure to bring enough change with you to pay for on-site parking at the hospital. However, we do NOT recommend that you leave valuables in the car. Hospitals are not liable for lost or stolen items, so if you do bring any valuables, make sure they are absolutely essential.
What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Mom
Documents & Medication
- Pregnancy records
- Birth plan
- Couple of comfy, dark-coloured, loose outfits that you don’t mind ruining
- e.g. long, baggy t-shirts or nightgowns and loose shorts or pyjama bottoms
- Pair of socks
- Book, music, game, etc. to pass the time
- Phone & Phone charger
- Light, healthy snacks that do not require refrigeration
- Granola bars, popcorn, etc.
- Refillable bottle of water
- Tools for pain management
- e.g. TENS machine, birthing ball, aromatherapy oils, etc.
- A comfortable pillow
- With colour or patterns so it is not mistaken for a hospital pillow
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, face wash, face cloth, hair ties, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, tissues, lip balm
- Small bottle of hand sanitiser
For Elective C-Section
- Everything listed in the regular labour bag checklist above PLUS:
- More outfits and underwear as you will likely have a longer hospital stay
- Compression socks
- Wet wipes
Non-essential Extras to Create a Positive Atmosphere
- Warm LED lights
- Relaxing music and a small portable speaker
- Positive affirmations, preferably laminated
Post-Birth Maternity Bag
- Couple more comfy, dark-coloured, loose outfits in your 26 weeks maternity size (including your going home outfit)
- Opt for open button shirts or v-neck tops if you plan on breastfeeding
- Select high-waisted trousers to avoid rubbing on c-section scars or other sensitive areas
- Multiple pairs of loose, large, high-waisted underwear.
- Don’t be afraid to go up a size to make room for maternity pads!
- 2 Maternity bras
- 2 large packs of maternity pads (even for planned c-sections)
- Slippers or sandals
- Breast pads
- Nipple cream
- 2 nursing bras
For Bottle Feeding
- Plenty of formula
- Sterilised bottles
- Dark-coloured towel for each day in hospital
- Eye mask and ear plugs
- Pen and paper
- You may have to record your baby’s feeds
What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Baby
- 6 baby vests and 6 babygrows
- Pack at least two for each day
- All clothes should be washed ahead of time
- Baby cardigan
- Indoor hat
- And warmer outdoor hat if birthing in winter
- Pair of scratch mittens
- If your sleep suits do not already have integrated scratch mittens
- Newborn-sized nappies
- Plan for 10-12 per day
- Cotton wool balls or pads for nappy changes and bathing
- Baby wipes
- Nappy cream
- Pre-washed baby towels
- Several bibs or muslin cloths
- Baby blanket
- 2 cellular baby blankets
- Car seat that is newborn-safe and fitted to your car
- Most hospitals won’t let you take your baby home without one!
Labour can be a frightening experience, but it can also be beautiful and life-changing. We hope these tips will help you feel confident about your ability to face whatever comes your way during your delivery and encourage you to get excited about welcoming your new baby home soon!