As a doula, my clients ask me all the time what they should be packing and taking to hospital, sometimes I even go through their bags with them. So I’m writing this blog in an attempt to keep all the information in one place, and give you a resource that you can revisit if you need to.
Having your bags packed by around 36-37 weeks is a great goal, that way you are organised before you really slow down but also because then they are ready before your are likely to go into labour. I recommend packing 2 bags - 1 for labour and the hours immediately after it, and 1 for your stay in hospital. If you’re driving to hospital, this second bag can stay in the car until it’s needed so you’re only bringing in the necessities for labour. But what to pack? Here’s my recommended list…..
your maternity notes, medicare card and ID - these are super important for the hospital or birth centre, so double check they’re in the bag as you walk out the door
copy of your birth plan - ideally you would have shared your birth plan (or birth preferences) with your care providers and gone through it during an antenatal appointment but it’s always a good idea to bring a copy in case it has gone astray. If it’s important to you that your wishes are respected then having them in writing is a great way to have them communicated on the day.
any items to focus on - some people like to bring photos of family (children or parents), sentimental items or visualisations for them to focus on during labour. If there’s anything that’s important to you then make sure it comes along
a water bottle with a straw - make taking regular sips easy!
snacks and drinks - eating and drinking regularly is important in labour, your body is working hard and needs to be well fuelled to work at its best. Snacks that provide protein and energy are ideal (bliss balls, muesli bars, dried fruit, nuts etc) and drinks that hydrate and provide simple sugars like coconut water or apple juice are great to alternate with water.
lip balm and hair bands - your lips can dry out in the air-conditioned environment and hair bands always go missing so pack extras
warm socks - your body temperature can fluctuate depending on what’s happening in your labour but even if your core body feels warm your feet can feel cold
long t-shirt or nightie - or whatever you’re comfortable to labour in, one with buttons at the neckline is perfect for skin to skin once your baby is born
dressing gown - layering can be helpful if you’re in hospital in early labour, feeling comfortable is key
slip on slippers - you don’t want to be fiddling around popping footwear on or off
tens machine - if you have rented or bought one make sure you have it with you! If you’re not wearing it on the way in, have it in the bag for when you need it
massage oil - massage is a great way to keep your oxytocin high
laptop or tablet - with some romantic or funny movies/shows to watch if you need to pass the time
music and speaker - I usually recommend having a few playlists ready to go, one that’s calm/romantic and one that’s a little more motivational or energetic, you never know what you’ll be in the mood for!
a face washcloth - bringing a face washer (or flannel) is a great idea. Yes, the hospital should be able find you one but you would be surprised at how hard they can be to track down. It’s much easier to bring one for when you want to be cooled down and have your face and shoulders patted down
lighting options - strings of fairy lights and battery operated tea lights can create a very different atmosphere in your birthing room. Lighting options in a hospital room can be limited - harsh lights are either on or off but bringing some small lights with you will help to take ownership of your environment keep that oxytocin high
extra pillows - seriously, there are never enough pillows and those that are there can be stiff and crinkly, bring some to keep you comfortable and create your homely environment
phone cables and chargers - it can sometimes be hard to find an obviously available plug socket in a labour room so make sure you have good battery packs that are fully charged. And long phone cables can be a life saver, especially when you’re on the postnatal ward!
nightie or long t-shirt - front opening ones are best if you’re planning on breastfeeding
nursing bras and breast pads
nipple cream - or hydrogel discs (I love these!)
high-waisted knickers and maternity pads (or a pack of adult diapers)
loose clothes - layering is great so track pants, t-shirts and hoodies are recommended
toiletries - buy some special ones to bring, treating yourself to some good quality toiletries will feel extra luxurious post birth
eye mask and ear plugs - in case you’re sharing a room
snacks - including dried fruit to ‘get things moving’ after birth
baby clothes - including a ‘going home’ outfit
nappies (or diapers)
muslin squares and wraps
car seat - for the journey home!
If you are being supported by a doula then she can go through your bags with you before labour and may even be bringing some of what’s on the list (like lights, massage oil etc) removing the need for quite so much packing! She may also bring other items to help support your comfort so it’s a good idea to understand what she brings to a birth.
Whatever you bring to support yourself don’t forget that the most important thing cannot be packed - and that’s the love that you have for each other and your new baby.