Getting your bag ready early is a great idea and one less thing for you to think about. Ideally you would want it ready by your 36th week.
Taking in a few items from home, such as your own pillows, a family photo or your favourite slippers can help you feel more comfortable. My son drew me a beautiful picture when I went in to have our daughter; I kept this with me during labour and then by my bed on the ward and it really helped me during my stay. Most hospitals won’t have much space, but a small few personal items can really make a difference to you emotionally.
A good idea is to pack two bags, one for the labour and one for your stay on the ward. Either way once you are packed leave all your bags in your car as you never know where or when your little one will decide to start their journey!
Essentials to pack for labour
* Your birth plan and maternity notes
* TENS pain relief machine if you are planning to use one
* A nightdress or T-shirt to wear in labour. If you have an old one that is even better as it will probably get messy
* Dressing gown – go for something lightweight as hospitals can be really warm
* A pair of socks – your feet can get cold during labour
* Lightweight slippers – these can be great for those early stages of pacing the corridors and then for after in the ward
* Lip balm as your lips can dry out quickly on a warm labour ward
* Snacks and drinks for you while you are in labour. Isotonic sports drinks are good and some health food bars, anything you can nibble on to give you energy (packing some wobbly straws is a good idea as you can pop them in a bottle and someone can help you drink)
* Hairbands -if you have long hair, you may want it tied up and out of your way
* Pillows – a few pillows from home can give you that extra comfort and if you plan to breastfeed your baby don’t forget your feeding pillow, if you plan to use one
* Relaxation items – books and magazines
* Music – take your MP3 or CD player and some music. You could make a personal CD just for your labour. Songs that will inspire you and keep you focused. Some hospitals provide their own CD players, but check first
* Water spray or a hand-held fan, to cool you down while you’re in labour
Items for your birth partner to pack
* A change of clothes including a toothbrush, tooth paste and deodorant. You just don’t know long you will both be in hospital
* Swimwear, if they want to join you in a birth pool.
* Mobile phone and charger. If you have a stopwatch/timer function, they can use it to help time your contractions.
* Camera or camera phone – you will want to capture those first moments with your new baby
* Snacks and drinks- it is really important for your birth partner to stay hydrated and have snacks at hand so they can fully focus on looking after you. Last thing you want is them nipping off to find a quick drink.
* Massage oil for them to massage you during your labour
Items to pack for after the birth
* Nightshirt or T-shirt -front-opening shirts are useful in the early days of breastfeeding
* Nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed, bring two or three
* Breast pads
* Old or cheap knickers or disposable knickers. Oversized cotton knickers can be useful if you end up having a cesearean as they won’t rub your wound. They will get messy so bring ones you won’t mind throwing away
* Maternity pads- you will need a few packs and can always ask family to bring more if you need them
* Essential toiletries – wet wipes are wonderful if you just want a quick freshen up and having your own toiletries to hand can give you that little boost you so need. Include towels, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste
* Eye mask and earplugs these can give you that little bit of comfort when you try to sleep on a bright noisy ward
* An outfit to travel home in – something loose and comfortable
What to pack for your baby
* Two or three sleepsuits and vests
* Nappies – your baby will go through as many as 12 in a day
* Muslin squares for mopping up any milk your baby brings up
* One pair of socks or booties
* Going home outfit – you will need to include:
* An outfit- sleepsuits or a stretchy one is ideal
* Baby blanket to wrap your baby up in when you leave or a jacket or snowsuit for winter babies
* Baby car seat – hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one