What to Pack in Your Maternity Bag

Well the big day is fast approaching and baby may well take you by surprise by arriving early, so it’s always best to be prepared as you can. Being unprepared for your trip to the hospital will only cause more stress so we definitely recommend getting your maternity bag ready for about 36 weeks into your pregnancy. Once it’s all done, you’re packed and ready to go so if your baby decides that 3am, 2 weeks early is a great time to arrive; all you need to do it get up, grab the bag, and set off.

Hospitals tend to vary with what items they will provide for you so it’s well worth checking your hospital’s policies in advance and packing anything you think that you might need that the hospital might not provide.

Items to pack for during your labour

There’s no set time for labour, it could take 10 minutes or it could take 10 hours, so it’s always best to pack for all eventualities and pack everything you might need. What you really don’t want to happen is to be wishing you had something that you have left at home. However, here are some ideas for the basics of what you will need during labour to give you a few ideas of the basics:

  • Your birthing plan, if you have one, and any notes or information that you might want to talk to the midwife about.
  • A dressing gown. Stick to a thinner one as hospitals can be quite warm
  • A nightdress or long t-shirt for when you are in labour. An old t-shirt will do as it is likely to get messy so there’s no point in buying something new
  • Music, magazines or books – something to keep you entertained if it’s a long labour. An MP3 player or iPod would be a great choice here, pre-load it with your favourite tracks.
  • Massage oil or lotion if you would like to be massaged during labour
  • Lip balm to keep your lips from cracking
  • Snacks and drinks for while you are in labour, if it’s a long one you will need subsistence to keep you going and keep your energy levels up. Energy/glucose drinks can be especially helpful but whatever you like best is fine.
  • A hairband, to keep your hair out of your way, this is especially useful if you have long hair
  • A TENS machine for pain relief (if you are planning to use one)
  • A toiletry bag with all your usual toiletries in it
  • Extra pillows/cushion. The hospital might not have enough to make you as comfortable as you need so if you think it could be useful then bring an extra one along.
  • A flannel and water spray to keep you cool. Wet wipes are also a good option as you can throw them away and they are always cool
  • A hot water bottle or heat pad, for extra pain relief
  • A watch with a second hand, so you can time your contractions

Items your partner/birthing partner may need

If you have a partner/birthing partner with you during labour then they might need a few things to help them and to also help you get through the labour! Here are some ideas for the basics:

  • Food, drinks and snacks. If it’s a long labour this will save them having to wander the hospital corridors searching for food and drinks when they start feeling peckish. It’s also best that they have their own labour picnic so that they don’t steal yours!
  • A change of clothes is always helpful as they might get messy too and will want to leave the hospital feeling fresh
  • If you are opting for a birthing pool then your birthing partner will need something to wear while they’re in the water
  • Change for payphones. Although you will be able to use your mobile phone in some parts of the hospital, you may  not be allowed in others, so it is always helpful to take plenty of change to make those all important calls to family and friends.
  • A list of important numbers is also helpful to pack, in case your mobile phone battery runs out.

Items for after you have given birth

Of course you will be focused on the birth and what you need for that, but spare a thought for yourself after labour when you will also need some key items for returning home. Most women will only be in hospital for 24 hours or less after giving birth, so it’s best to be prepared for the home journey. Again, here are some thoughts on some items you might want to pack:

  • A loose nightdress or t-shirt. Front opening shirts are very useful if you are planning on breastfeeding your baby.
  • Clothes for going home in. Choose some loose, comfortable clothing to go home in. Be aware that it will take some time for your tummy to go down after giving birth so you’ll still need your maternity clothing for going home.
  • Nursing bras. Best to pack two or three of these to be on the safe side.
  • Breast pads (bring a few of these)
  • Maternity pads (you will likely need a couple a packs minimum to keep you fresh)
  • Extra toiletries to freshen up after the labour
  • Towels, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, again for you to freshen up after the labour
  • Old or cheap underwear or disposable knickers. For obvious reasons, pack a few pairs of these to help you keep fresh and dry.
  • Ear plugs are also useful, in case you end up on a very noisy ward and you will be in need of some much needed sleep, so pack a pair just in case.
  • Arnica cream or tablets are used by many women to help speed up the healing process of bruises

Items for your new arrival

Now your little bundle of joy is here they will also need some essential items to wrap them up and keep them toasty before returning home. You shouldn’t be staying in hospital long so you won’t need too much, and their clothes are so tiny they won’t take up much space!

  • A baby blanket to keep them warm, especially for winter babies.
  • Nappies! Some hospitals will provide these for you but some don’t so make sure you check in advance and it’s always worth packing a few just in case.
  • A baby car seat, many hospitals will not let you leave by car if you don’t have one so make sure you do, as the last thing you want is to try and leave, only to be told that you can’t.

Giving birth is obviously a dramatic and stressful experience so by packing your maternity bag in advance you really are giving yourself a lot less to worry about when the big day arrives, leaving you to focus on giving birth and meeting your new baby. Of course these are just suggestions for the basics of a maternity bag but you should pack anything that you think you might need or want on the day to make sure you are prepared for any eventuality. Other than that we can only wish you the best of luck on your big day and hope that all runs smoothly, with the help of your maternity bag of course!

22nd March 2010
Written by Very_Lauren

Posted by: Ian Schofield 10 April 2010

Excellent advice, I will pass this onto my clients at london maternity photography