So we’ve looked at location, types of deliveries and methods of birthing. Now let’s take a look at all the essentials you will need to pack for labour, birth and after your baby is delivered. A sensible time to have your bags packed (yes your birth partner needs one too!) is around 36 weeks pregnant.
If you are delivering in a hospital, they can have varied policies about what you can take in with you. So always good to check where you are going to give birth. You may wish to take a few items from home, like your own pillows, music, candles. This can help to make the environment more personal. However, be mindful that hospitals may be short on space!
Take Two Bags
When packing for you, think about packing two bags; one for your labour and the hours straight after the birth, and the second one for a stay on the postnatal ward. The second one can always be left in the car and will only be used if your stay is extended.
What to pack for labour?
I have put together a list of the things you might want to pack.
Next to several of the items, you will see a link and a shopping bag emoji 🛍️. If you need any of the items recommended below, these links will take you to Amazon where you can purchase them. I love the website BabyCentre, which provides invaluable care and advice for new mums. Any purchases from these links will earn BabyCentre a small commission, so they can continue to do what they do best.
- Your Birth Plan & maternity notes
- A dressing gown 🛍️ Always useful, especially if you end up pacing during the onset of early labour, and you will need one for the postnatal ward. Take a lightweight one as hospitals / centres can be quite warm. I would suggest choosing a dark colour or patterned one to help hide any stains.
- Backless slip-on slippers 🛍️ that are easy to get on and off.
- Socks 🛍️ I was surprised how cold my feet got during my first labour and I gave birth in Hong Kong!
- During labour, use an old nightdress or T-shirt. It will get messy so please don’t buy anything special to wear.
- Essential oils (I will be doing a separate blog on these) to either smell or use if you want to be massaged during labour.
- A Birthing Ball, which I use to train my prenatal Mums, getting used to them and they can really be effective during labour. Some hospitals do have them so check they have the right size for you and if not, take your own. Don’t forget the pump so your birth partner can inflate it for you.
- Lip balm 🛍️ On a warm labour ward, your lips can quickly dry out, so well worth remembering this item.
- Snacks and drinks for you to keep you energised and hydrated during labour. However, do be mindful of the sugar content. On this occasion isotonic sports drinks are good, or glucose tablets to keep you going.
- Items to help pass the time e.g. books, magazines, tablet or laptop, MP3 player, CD player (if you possess one!) and CDs.
- Hairbands 🛍️ or clips for long hair.
- Pillows, as the hospital may not have enough to make you comfortable. One of the best is a V-shaped pillow which can provide extra support when breastfeeding.
- If you are planning to use one, a TENS pain relief machine.
Birth Partner – What should they pack?
- Water spray or a hand-held fan 🛍️ to help cool you down whilst you are in labour.
- Comfortable shoes as they may well be pacing with you!
- A change of clothes as your birth partner might be with you for a while. They may not get the chance to have a shower for a while.
- Bendy straws 🛍️ to help you drink during labour.
- If it’s a water birth, swimwear in case they want to join you in the birthing pool (click here to read my recent Blog on Water Births).
- Mobile phone and charger! Most mobiles have a stopwatch/timer function which they can use to help time your contractions. If it’s a smartphone then there is an app that can do this job for you.
- Camera to snap or video those first moments of you with your baby.
- Snacks and drinks. Same applies for your birthing partner as it does for you, plus it saves time and energy leaving the room in search of nourishment.
What to pack for after the birth?
- A going-home outfit. Make sure it is loose comfortable clothing to wear whether in hospital or for the trip home. Unlike a lot of the celebrity pictures we see, it will take a while for your tummy to go down so you will probably still require your maternity clothes.
- Your handouts about how to get breastfeeding started, which you received at your antenatal classes. If you have a contact card for a breastfeeding counsellor or specialist, take that with you too.
- Bring two or three Nursing bras 🛍️.
- Breast pads 🛍️ plus a front-opening night shirt or T-shirt.
- Bring two packs of Maternity pads 🛍️.
- Toiletries. To help save on space decant some into smaller bottles or use the travel versions. You may also sweat more after birth, so make sure you have your deodorant.
- Towels, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Underwear (not your best going out out pair!) or disposable knickers. Big cotton ones are useful too, in case you end up having a c-section as they won’t rub your wound. The NCT sells wonderfully stretchy knickers, check them out.
- Arnica cream (I will be doing a blog specifically dedicated to Homeopathic Remedies as I used them myself and they worked wonders.) It can help reduce bruising and aid towards the healing process.
- Eye mask🛍️ and earplugs, to help you sleep on a brightly lit, noisy ward.
What to pack for Baby?
- Two or three sleepsuits and vests. Don’t buy a huge amount because baby will grow quickly!
- Baby blanket 🛍️ Even though hospitals are warm, your newborn may require a blanket, especially if it is chilly outside when you go home.
- Nappies. Your newborn will go through as many as 12 in a day!
- Muslin squares 🛍️ for clearing up any milk your baby brings up (possetting.)
- One pair of socks or booties. I found my first managed to somehow wriggle out of his, so the second time around I used socks.
- A hat.
- One outfit for the home trip. The easiest is usually the all-in-one stretchy ones.
- A Baby car seat.
- Jacket or snowsuit 🛍️ for winter babies (make sure to remove it before placing your baby in a car seat).
So there you have it, an invaluable list of what you need for your time during labour, birth and after. And I haven’t forgotten your birthing partner, a very important part of Mum’s cheerleading team!
Happy Packing, Happy Birth, Happy Mum & Baby!
- The BirthCentre