A quick search in Google on this topic brings up a million lists of what you do and don't need but as with everything concerning babies and motherhood, everyone is different. Some go minimal and some feel safer packing the kitchen sink.
Lots of friends shared lists and spreadsheets first time round for me which were really useful but second time round, I know what I really need and don't need in my hospital bag.
There's also differing advice from NHS midwifes and staff versus what other mums might say. Many hospital bag packing lists will tell you to take massive items like your favourite pillow and an exercise ball, but your midwife will probably tell you to take one small case...already we an have an issue ;-)
With Covid restrictions still lingering too, what is usually allowed compared to what is allowed now also differs. If you're going to be in hospital for longer than a day, you might not be allowed visitors due to Coronavirus restrictions, which may mean you'll want more things to keep you occupied whilst you're alone too.
Time of year you're giving birth will also impact your hospital bag packing. Our baby is due in Spring whereas my first came during a bitterly cold winter so it was thick coats, blankets and dressing gowns all the way.
I also know I'm having a c-section this time round so although I'm hoping to be in and out pretty sharpish I know I shouldn't be in for days before anything happens and need all the snacks, magazines etc that I got through before...hopefully!
So let's start with what you'll need to pack in the hospital bag for mum.
- NHS Orange book and birth plan
The bloody thing is so battered now it's embarrassing, but it's been everywhere with me for the past god knows how many weeks. You'll need to bring your NHS Orange book (or digital version if your area has updated from paper) to the birth too - even if it's a planned c-section like my birth.
If you've been organised enough to write a birth plan and preferences, bring that too. If you haven't it's not essential, but there are tons of great free online tools to help you create one. Below are just a few:
- Pyjamas or loose fitting clothing
I don't think there's any need to buy new ones as I'm more comfortable in the ones I've been wearing up until now. I'm planning on taking a couple that are vest tops so I can pull a boob out if breastfeeding goes my way, and another that's button down for the same reason.
- Massive pants!
Big, dark cotton granny knickers a couple of sizes larger than normal as comfort is key. Disposable ones are good too apparently but I prefer 'normal' ones that feel less hospital-y.
Breast and maternity....all the pads! No explanation needed but always take more than you think you'll need and maternity pads rather than regular sanitary towels. The hospital will have spare maternity pads if you need them though.
- Made by Mammas box
Even though this may seem like a massive plug, bear with me. We teamed up with Georgia and Zoe of Made by Mammas, who wanted to create the perfect 'hospital' box for us, an edit of what you need rather than your whole wash bag for a week a way and your make up bag on top.
Most items in there are really practical - the Living Proof Dry Shampoo - no explanation needed, and this will definitely come in handy when you leave hospital too. The same goes for the SAS hand sanitizer. This one is apple fragranced so a welcome change form the standard hospital sanitizers and kinder on your hands too.
The one thing I MUST have is a decent cleanser. That feeling of washing off muck and grime - and probably sweat if we're honest, from labour is an amazing feeling so we've got the Elemis Pro-Collagen cleansing balm in there for this.
There are a few fab multitaskers included such as Weleda's Calendula Body and Hair Wash for body and hair - it's actually a baby product so you can use on your little one later on, plus the Bloom & Blossom Wonder Worker balm which can be used on dry lips, as a nappy balm, all sorts.
Tisserand have the best range of roller ball oils and I'll definitely be using the Destress Pulse Point roller to keep me calm.
After labour you probably won't feel like a full face of make up. All I wanted is a swipe of mascara and something to add a bit of colour back into my tired face.
That's why we chose Benefit's Bad Gal Bang mascara, which has been my favourite since it launched and makes me look awake even if I'm not quite there. The box also includes a wonder stick from INC.redible cosmetics (Nails Inc's little sister) which is a fab shea based product that you can use on your cheeks, eyes and lips in seconds.
I'm hoping armed with these, I look a bit more like 'me' in those first few photos with the baby. I look 'shell shocked' to say the least when I look back at the photos with Brae, my first little one bless me. That box and my toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant is all I'll need.
- Phone charger, phone and headphones
I can't imagine being disconnected when I'm in hospital and with the prospect of no visitors this is an obvious must have. Plus, the reality is whilst I'm not up for filming the WHOLE thing, I know I will want photos and maybe videos of the occasion, the good, bad and the ugly (crying faces, brace brace)! I'm not an ear plugs person but I'll take my ear pods with me to block out any unwanted noises and listen to music or podcasts if I need to pass the time or some help getting some shut eye.
- Comfy clothes
Comfy clothes are another definite, not just to move around the hospital in but also for the journey home. Nothing that's too tight or clingy and things that can double up so I will take a big cardigan rather than a dressing gown for example and flip flops rather than slippers.
Again, I'm hoping I won't be in too long that I'll need a full on picnic set up but snacks and my water bottle will definitely be by my side throughout whether they're there for energy or boredom. The fact that I won't be able to have visitors bring things in or pop to the dreaded vending machine means a little bit of planning here.
Now, what to pack for baby in your hospital bag:
- Newborn nappies and everything that goes with them
Smallest size is the safest bet unless you know beforehand if you're baby is going to be bigger or smaller than most, but hospitals will always be able to help out if necessary. I'm going to use disposables again. I am up for exploring more environmentally friendly options this time round but not from day one, in hospital, on my own. Let's keep it simple. Same goes for nappy bags and wipes, I'll be keeping it simple and chucking them in.
Brae was smaller than we thought/expected when he was born so the newborn baby grows and outfits were all miles too big for him and I sent my sister and Dan out to emergency buy some clothes for him to wear. This time round, I think the shops may still be closed and I'm assuming limited/no visitors, so I've got a couple of different sized options just in case (an annoyingly expensive way of doing it) and plenty of muslins and a couple of blankets too.
I need to find a jacket or snow suit style 'something' for when we leave but conscious we won't know what the weather will be like and don't want her to be roasting...any suggestions, please leave in the comments below!
We never used scratch mittens with Brae, he never needed them but I have them from before so I'll put them in too in case we do need them with number two.
I've got a couple of hats too - they look so small, as they loose a lot of heat through their head and I think that's about it. I'm sure I'll stuff way too much in in the panic that she'll won't have enough clothes but let's see.
- Pre-made bottles
As with my first, Brae, the plan is to breastfeed but if that doesn't work then I'll used the pre-made bottles and/or formula. The pre-made bottles are so handy as there's no faffing around, especially if I am recovering from a c-section and on my own. From memory, we took in sterilised bottles and formula too last time but these little beauts were a lifesaver...even though I swear they are more expensive than liquid gold! Either way, I'll feel better knowing I have all bases covered.
- Car seat
The best thing we ever bought when we had Brae was a Doona Car Seat/Stroller. If you haven't seen these they look like a standard car seat but at the push of a button (literally) wheels pop out and it turns into a pushchair/stroller. Genius. And no, sadly I haven't been #gifted one, I just love them. No need to transfer baby from pram to car seat and back again.
Last time I had a borrowed TENS machine which definitely came in useful but I won't need that this time but look into them, you can hire them if you don't want to buy one if you are thinking of pain management.
Some other things that friends have not been able to do without whilst you're looking into it are - cotton wool, your own towel, swimming costume (in case of water birth), hair brush and bands, nipple cream, massage oil, straws, Evian/water spray - so good in hot months, electro light shots...don't judge 'em 'til you've tried them my friends.
What else?? A whole lot of confidence and excitement I hope. If I'm in pain, I'll ask for pain relief. If I need help, I'll ask for it. I'm SO excited to meet her and although a planned c-section isn't necessarily how I envisaged her arriving, it brings positives too in that if all goes to plan I should know what's happening and when, opposed to the 4 day ordeal first time round. I can't wait to meet her. It's seemed a long time coming what with what's happened in the last year or so and our long journey to parenthood before that.
Whatever your birth story, natural, home birth, early, overdue, emergency c-section or planned, bringing a human into this world is HUGE and everyone's story is their own. Sending lots of luck and love to anyone with an imminent arrival too.