Preparing the overnight bag for your hospital stay is one of the events during your pregnancy where everything often starts to feel more 'real'. It signals that you've reached those later stages of pregnancy where labour could happen at any moment. How exciting!
Before the internet existed you'd have to rely on baby books, suggestions from family and friends and your own intuition when it came to working out what to pack for your hospital stay. Luckily, we live in an age where most things are at the tips of your fingers so you can spend less time worrying about what to take and more time binging Netflix before your little bundle arrives.
With that in mind, we've compiled our ultimate checklist for your hospital stay so you don't have to. In our list you'll find all the essentials plus a handful of other things to consider, as every birth and hospital experience is different. We've even included a helpful infographic version for you to save to your phone and use when the time comes.
As mentioned above, it's important to remember that each birth and hospital experience is different and of course some will need more or less than others. When going into hospital to have our son, Rocco, my husband and I had prepared what we thought was a pretty comprehensive overnight bag. What we weren't anticipating was a super long baby who didn't fit in any of the clothes we had taken, breastfeeding issues that meant we needed emergency formula (we hadn't packed any) and an 8 day hospital stay including a SCBU admission. With my induction taking 4 days plus a surprise 4 day hospital stay post-birth, all three of us had run out of clean clothing and snacks, and we were running already low on nappies. Ultimately we had gone to the hospital expecting to stay a night or two, but it ended up being over a week. Should you pack for a week just in case? No. But we do have some tips at the bottom of this list to ensure you're well prepared for your upcoming labour regardless of whether it's simply one night or a slightly longer stay.
We hope this helps parents who are busy preparing their own bags and gives some food for thought. If you know someone who is expecting a little one, be sure to share this with them.
If this list is helpful, let us know on Instagram at @roccoandthefox!
Gadgets and Essentials:
Extra long phone charger (a 6ft cable is ideal!)
Camera memory card
iPad/Kindle and charger
Coins for vending machines
Large, comfortable underwear
Handheld fan (and batteries if required)
Water bottle with straw
Change of clothes for partner
Tena Lady pants/disposable underwear
Dark, stretchy pyjamas
My Expert Midwife Spritz for Bits
Plastic bag for dirty clothes
Shampoo and Conditioner
Gentle soap/shower gel
Bodysuits/vests x 2 sizes (Summer-born babies may not need these)
Knotted gown (Only one size needed as they're adjustable)
Sleepsuits x 2 sizes
Hats x 2
Socks or booties x 2
Scratch mittens x 2
Going home outfit
A pack of nappies (newborn size)
Cotton wool balls/gentle baby wipes
Pramsuit/outer layer for autumn/winter babies
BF = Breastfeeding FF = Formula feeding CF = Combination feeding
Bottles (FF, CF)
Formula (FF, CF)
Nipple cream (BF, CF)
Harvested colostrum if available (BF, FF, CF)
Burp cloths/muslins x 5 (BF, FF, CF)
Nursing pillow (BF, FF, CF)
Nipple shields (BF, CF)
Silicone milk collector (BF, CF)
Other things you may want to consider:
Refreshing facial spray: Long or hot labours can get uncomfortable so you may want to consider taking a facial spray to give you a little boost. We love this Peppermint Facial Mist from WBC.
Cooling water spray: Similar to above, labour wards can be very hot, stuffy places during warmer weather. As well as a handheld fan it's also an idea to have some cooling water spray for your birthing partner to periodically spritz over you. Water spray + fan = bliss.
Essential oils: Birth aromatherapy is becoming more popular so essentials oils are often popped in a hospital bag. Lavender is said to relieve pain and is soothing and comforting, and Peppermint helps with keeping nausea and vomiting at bay. Just remember not to use essential oils directly on your skin and avoid any that are not recommended (such as Clary Sage).
Room spray/diffuser: Labour tends to progress more quickly when you're relaxed so having a familiar scent may be helpful. A few squirts of your usual room spray may remind you of home and keep you relaxed during labour.
Massage oils: Massage is a proven method of pain relief during labour as it stimulates your body to release endorphins, the natural pain-killing, mood-lifting chemicals produced in the brain. A shoulder or lower back massage may help to not only relieve pain but also stress too, so consider taking massage oils with you for your birth partner to get involved.
TENS machine: While we're still on the subject of pain relief, some people find TENS machines highly effective. If you've been using one at home and plan to use it at the hospital too, remember to pop it in your bag.
Bikini top/vest top: If there is a chance you'll have a water birth remember to pack a bikini top or vest top if that's something you want. Some birth-givers prefer being completely nude in the pool and others prefer being covered a little on top so it's whatever is most comfortable for you.
Partner's swimwear for water birth: Similarly, if your birth partner will be joining you in the pool for your child's birth they will also need their swimwear too. It'll be worth packing a towel too!
Playlist: Whether you're having a c-section, water birth or anything in between, you may have curated the perfect playlist to be the soundtrack to your labour. If this is on an iPod or CD (remember those?) just be sure to pack it along with any charger required.
Photo props: Everyone has their own way of announcing the arrival of their sweet bundle. If you plan on getting a birth announcement photo while still in the hospital, you may want to consider props such as wooden plaques or letter boards. Don't forget, in the UK you'll often be approached during your hospital stay by the Bounty photographer who will offer to take professional photographs of your newborn so these props can be used during that photoshoot too.
Doughnut cushion: After birth it'll be a few weeks until everything down there feels a little more normal. If you have stitches or are just a little tender, you may want to consider taking a doughnut cushion to sit on - especially for the drive home.
Water bottle with a long windy straw: If you have a c-section it will be a little trickier to sit up in your bed. As such, a water bottle with a long windy straw will make it easier for you to drink without having to sit up completely.
Face masks: And of course, if you're giving birth in 2021 or even 2022, you'll likely need face masks for at least some of your hospital visit. Don't forget to pack a few!
TOP TIP: Pack an additional bag with extra clothes, nappies and snacks and keep it in your car. If your stay ends up being longer than expected you can quickly pop out to the car to grab additional supplies.