Packing your hospital bag is an exciting job for first time mums. If you're having your baby in hospital, have your bag packed in plenty of time (ideally by 37 weeks), so if labour starts early you'll be ready to go.
Here are some ideas from Everyday Maternity on what to prepare for your hospital bag.
Try not to take too much as you often only get a small cabinet by your bed. It can be useful to have two bags: one for labour and one for your hospital stay afterwards.
* Your birth plan and maternity notes
* Socks and slippers – for wandering round in and keeping your feet warm
* Maternity nightdress - or old long t-shirt
* Dressing gown – to keep warm while you wait
* Prenatal Massage oil – for soothing back rubs
* Lip balm – gas and air can dry your lips
* Snacks and drinks – for you and also your birth partner, you don’t want them flagging!
* Watch with a second hand, to time contractions
* Magazines, book or music player – not always needed, but just in case things take awhile
* TENS pain relief machine if you are planning to use one
* Prescription medications
* Water spray or a hand-held fan to keep you cool
* Small facial sponge, for dabbing and sucking on
* Drinking straws – easier than trying to drink from a cup
* Hair bands
* Nursing Nightdress – save your Nursing Pyjamas for when you get home, as the waistband of your PJs can be painful if you have had a C-Section
* Nursing bras - two or three
* Nursing pads to absorb leaks – disposable nursing pads or washable breast pads
* Lansinoh lanolin – for sore or cracked nipples
* Maternity pads/Night-time sanitary pads -- a couple of packs. Maternity pads are more breathable - normal pads have plastic backing which creates moisture and increases the risk of stitches not healing and infection
* Disposable panties – you may need to change your maternity pads frequently during the first few hours after the birth, so if you don’t want to use disposable pants, pack your old knickers
* Towel – dark colours are best
* Toiletries – toothbrush and paste, soap, shampoo, moisturiser
* Make-up – a touch of make-up will pep you up for your visitors
* Comfortable clothes for on the ward – loose and relaxed is best, you will still have your pregnancy tummy, and may well be sore. Take a look at the Maternity Leisure Wear section for some comfy clothes
* Breastfeeding Top – you may feel more comfortable with visitors arriving to wear normal clothes
* Feeding Pillow - helps bring baby to a comfortable feeding position
* Feminine Wipes – softer than toilet paper, as you may be sore and bruised
* Ear plugs and eye mask - in case you end up on a noisy, bright ward!
* Phone book, plus lots of change for the phone - you may not be able to use your mobile phone in the hospital building
* Biscuits and snacks
* Favourite tea bags
* Fruit juice/mineral water
* Pen & paper – jot down who has visited and what gifts they brought
* Change for the car park
* 2 x Babygro and vests for baby – put at the top of the bag to ensure your partner can get at it
* Baby blanket
* Nappies/baby wipes/nappy sacks/nappy cream
* Hat and jacket
* Formula milk/steriliser – if not provided by the hospital
* Car seat
* Muslin squares – multi tasking item, mops up sick, keeps you clean while feeding.......
Check with your midwife for a full list as different hospitals will have their own requirements. Some will provide washable nappies during your stay and do not allow disposables to be used. Some prefer to provide formula milk themselves if you are not going to breastfeed.
Be wary of taking anything of value such as a cameras, camcorder or iPod as unfortunately items are stolen in hospitals should you be rushed off to theatre for an emergency C-Section you won’t be able to take anything in with you.
Let your partner know what is in each bag, just in-case you are in no state to remember.
Have some more baby clothes at home that your partner can bring in, should you be staying more than one night.
Stock up on basics, such as toilet paper, sanitary pads, nappies - you will only have eyes (time) for your baby when you get home, and won't want to be going out shopping.