Packing a hospital bag for labour– getting it right

The internet is awash with sites detailing what you need to take with you to the hospital for the labour, birth and after birth period. Some of what you’ll need will be governed by your local maternity unit, so always check their guidance, but here at My BabyManual we think it’s useful to ask other mums.

Here’s one mother’s take on what she was most glad she packed in her bag, what she wishes she’d packed and what she wishes she hadn’t packed.

The best thing in my hospital bag for labour

There is so much for mums-to-be to consider when packing for childbirth that it can all get a bit confusing.

I remember that at one stage of trying to figure it out I had a list of more than 90 separate items. Although I did succeed in whittling it down, it’s fair to say that I was still somewhat over-prepared and, given that the bag was packed and waiting at the door by week 29 of my pregnancy, a little premature in my preparations.

However, there were some things that I definitely could not have done without. Foremost among these was the playlist I’d carefully prepared with my husband. It may not be part of the NHS checklist, and I know it doesn’t sound like the most practical bit of birthing kit, but having some calming music allowed me to place my focus away from the clinical hospital setting during the early stages of labour. I had it saved on my phone, so it meant I could carry the music with me as I walked around the hospital and my husband bought a little pair of Bluetooth speakers so that we could listen together in the delivery room.

Rose, lavender and jasmine oils were another essential part of helping to ease my mind away from the clinical hospital setting. They say that scent is the most powerful and transportative of the senses. With ears plugged into my music and my nostrils plugged into my essential oils, I was able to create for myself a safe and comfortable space for childbirth.

The most practical item I packed was a shawl my mother-in-law had crocheted. When she gave it to me I was a bit non-plussed, I didn’t think it looked practical and I wondered if we’d ever use it, but the hospital checklist said “take a shawl or blanket”, so I packed it. It turned out that our son absolutely loved to be tightly swaddled and the shawl was perfect for this. Not to mention that my mother-in-law was proud as punch that her handiwork was crucial in calming her grandson.

What I wish I’d packed

Given my exhaustive list of items you might be surprised that there is anything could possibly have needed, but a combination of oversight and carelessness meant that didn’t have everything I would have liked.

Stupidly, I never packed a toothbrush, thinking that I would remember to put mine in when it came time to leave for the hospital. I would advise any other mother looking to pack for the hospital to be sure that she doesn’t let it come to this: pack a spare in your bag instead; it’s hard to remember a toothbrush when your waters have broken.

More food is always a good idea. The hospital food was horrible and there was nowhere nearby. I got hungry during labour and I was understandably famished after the birth. A few apples, granola bars and chocolates were simply insufficient, particularly as my husband ate half of these as I contracted. If there’s a next time, I’m going to make sure that I have an additional checklist, solely dedicated to food.

Finally, I wish that instead of taking scratch mittens (these wouldn’t stay on her tiny hands) I’d just taken a pair of mini socks (these stay in place far more easily) on tiny hands.

What I wish I hadn’t packed

There is so much stuff I could list here, so I won’t. All I will say is that if you are feeling ambitious enough to take a book with you to read between contractions, make sure it is something short and easy to transport – my choice of a 900 page novel in hardback could hardly have been heavier and more cumbersome. Magazines, may be a better choice, or a paperback that you’re quite happy to dip in and out of.

Another unnecessary piece item was my laptop. Looking back on it I can’t even remember my rationale for packing it. Whatever the case, it just meant we travelled heavier than we needed to.

Lastly, my white bathrobe which I took for wearing post labour, was a complete mistake – I completely underestimated the bleeding post birth and how difficult it is to drink or eat while breast feeding. My lovely clean robe was soon stained and nasty. Try a darker colour or something with a really busy pattern…and maybe this is true of all clothes post-childbirth – white clothes are no longer your friends.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.