While it took me a little while to get organised with my hospital bag, I did find it was really fun putting it all together in anticipation of our little babe's birth. I think they recommend you pack it anytime around 36 weeks, just in case of an early arrival - but I don't think I packed mine until a few days before my due date. As it is I went overdue anyway, and kept having to dive into it to use some of the toiletries etc. In the end I think I took about three separate bags which meant a fair bit for B to carry! I ended up with a small wheelie suitcase with mine and baby's main belongings, a small carrier bag with snacks and drinks and B had his backpack too.
I love writing lists, so ahead of packing my bag I wrote endless lists, all the while scouring Pinterest for any and everything I might possibly need. It got a little overwhelming so in the end I broke it down further and then I put each collection of items into its own pouch. The theory being that B would know what was in each one and could quickly grab any of it as and when it was needed. (By the way, this is one of the best pieces of advice I was given - make sure your birthing partner knows where you stuff is stashed. You probably won't fancy rooting through your bag yourself as you may be a little preoccupied!)
It's fair to say I took a grand total of no photos of my hospital suitcase...so I'm sharing a few fun photos of a tiny Tallie instead...
POUCH 1 - LABOUR
Bendy straws - handy for sipping at water throughout labour, even when in funny positions!
Massage oil - I'd heard how good and uplifting orange oil was so I was keen to give it a try and with each contraction in early labour B massaged this oil into my lower back. As it turns out, it really helped me relax and keep breathing through it all. I had tons left over afterwards and it's been lovely to use after showers to keep my skin soft.
Mints - I didn't really need these, but it was nice to have them on hand.
Lip balm - yes oh yes. My lips got super dry making this and water absolutely essential.
Nightdress - I had an old nightie that had skinny straps and was super soft and light, and this was just what I needed. Plus, it being old I didn't care that after labour it went straight in the bin! (There's one similar here.) As mine was pretty loose it also meant that straight after giving birth I could feed Tallie, even though it didn't have fancy pull down bits at the front.
Hair ties - I packed a ton of these as I couldn't risk B not being able to find them, there is nothing worse than feeling hot and bothered and not being able to find a bobble...
Sweets - as it turns out I was ravenous while waiting for the induction to kick in, but once things got going food was the last thing on my mind. The sweets were nice afterwards though. I also took a big tub of Haribo for the midwives to put on their station which I think was happily received!
Face spray - I got a travel spray bottle and just filled it with cool water once I was in active labour. B then could spritz my face occasionally which brought some lovely cool relief.
Face cloth - much like the spray bottle, a cool flannel is handy to dab your brow with once things get going. (Certainly if you're anything like me and feel like you run a few degrees hotter than most!)
POUCH 2 - TOILETRIES
Moisturiser - I had this cream and used it on my face and body and loved it. Quite sad to have run out now tbh.
Emery boards - I don't know about you, but if I snag my nail and I don't have an emery board to hand it is so hard to think about anything else!
Hand cream - lots of hand washing definitely takes its toll so this is a nice one to have handy on your bedside.
Hand sanitiser - not essential if you have a private room with a sink, but so handy to keep on standby for before/after nappy changes.
Pack of tissues - I don't go anywhere without these, and hospital was no different!
POUCH 3 - AFTER CARE
Nipple cream - if you're wanting to breastfeed this stuff is amazing while you get the hang of it.
Breast pads - so handy for any leaky moments. I had (and still have) disposable ones, but in future I'd be tempted to get washable ones like these bamboo ones.
Maternity pads - I took two packs of these with me and that was plenty, though I did stock up again once I was home.
Maternity mats - these were provided by the hospital, but I added them to this list as I made sure I had them handy for when I returned home. They were really handy for changing Tallie on those first few days, as the nappies were interesting to say the least!
POUCH 4 - MAKE UP
Tinted moisturiser - I didn't want anything too fussy, just something to hydrate and even out my skin tone, ahead of welcoming visitors. I love this by La Roche Posay.
Mascara - my usual staple.
Tinted lip balm - I love these by Korres as they have a lovely pigment, but are light and non sticky.
Concealer - bags be gone!
Pressed powder - only for a light dusting, but I don't think I really used it as the ward was so warm and my skin was pretty dry.
I then also packed:
- Maternity notes - essential!
- Flip flops - for showers while you're on the postnatal ward, our showers were clean, but still...
- Towel - our hospital provided towels which actually weren't too bad, but I still preferred to have one from home.
- Other PJs - while I wouldn't recommend taking your fancy pjs to hospital (save them for when you're home as you may still be a bit messy). In the end I stuck to wearing my big pants and a comfy vest top while I was in hospital, and I put on old loose pj bottoms for trips to the bathroom etc.
- Nursing bras - I had these for sleeping in, and these for day time wear.
- Comfy clothes - I was only in for one day and night following Tallie's birth, so I wore my pjs most of the day and had comfy clothes for going home in. My feet had swollen so much that I ended up needing to wear my flip flops to go home. I made sure I took the nursing vest tops I had as they made things so much easier while I was getting to grips with feeding. These from H&M are a staple in my wardrobe now.
- Big pants - cotton, comfy and essential after birth. I also got some of these disposable pants for right after birth, when things were still a bit messy.
- Dressing gown - I did pack one of these (a thin light one) and began active labour wearing it, but it got so in the way with its tie straps that I ditched it in the end. I didn't feel I needed one on the ward afterwards either as it was so so hot!
- Headphones - I listened to a lot of music in the early stages of labour, so headphones were essential. They would also have been handy on the postnatal ward (so noisy most of the time) but as it is I managed to snag a private room.
- Wooly socks - I packed my favourite snuggly socks, but in the end I was so hot (maternity wards like to keep things toasty) that I didn't need them.
Nappies - these aren't provided at hospital so we took about half a pack (around 10-15) I think, which was plenty given our short stay. But we also didn't stress out as the hospital was not far from lots of shops, so B could have dashed out and got more had we needed them.
Muslin cloths - x3 ideal for burping and cleaning up any and everything.
Cotton wool - we didn't really use this, as when the nurse came to teach us how to wash Tallie, she brought her own cotton wool with her.
Baby wipes - we used Water Wipes at first, instead of using cotton wool and water for nappy changes as it was so much quicker and easier.
Sleepsuits - we took 3 of these, size 'up to one month' as well as 2 newborn sizes. Not really sure why we took the newborn ones as she was so big they never got a look in!
Short sleeve vests - x3 to wear under the sleepsuits.
Hat - we didn't put Tallie in one in our room as it was so warm, but we had it on standby for the journey home.
Scratch mitts - I packed a pair of these but they weren't used as the sleepsuits had them integrated.
Coat - we didn't get a coat exactly, but we did have a warm hoodie type jacket for the journey home.
Blanket - I used this cellular blanket and it was perfect, plus it lasted a long while once we got home before she outgrew it.
Car seat - another essential!
Wallet - including change for the car park at hospital. Thankfully our hospital gave a good discount on a longer term parking pass to those having a baby!
iPad - handy for the quieter moments when they need to pass the time.
Chargers - I gave B mine too, to keep handy.
And that's it. Looking at the list it does seem to be an awful lot of stuff, but as you can see some of it was a 'just in case' addition to the bags.
What about you? Did you pack anything different in your bag? I love this article about what women have with them at birth, from around the world. So fascinating and it really makes me grateful for the amazing (free!) care we have access to in this country.