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When you are nearing your third and final trimester in pregnancy, it is a great idea to start thinking about what you would like to pack in your hospital bag. If you are very organised then you may have started to pack yours already. Preparation is the key, so consider thinking about what items you may need for yourself in labor and for your newborn baby ahead of time.
Seasoned moms will know exactly what they do and do not use in hospital, but it can still be extremely helpful to refresh one’s memory by referring to hospital bag lists. First time mom’s can greatly benefit from searching for such lists online to get other women’s perspectives on what they found most helpful to take along too.
Hopefully my list below will be able to offer you some inspiration for what to pack in your bag before labor comes around and you get to meet your beautiful baby!
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1. Birthing Plan/Maternity Notes
Taking your birthing plan and maternity notes along to hospital can be crucial before labor. Regardless of the rules of the country you are in or whether you have privately funded healthcare or not, it is still extremely helpful for your healthcare providers that you have this information on you. It is therefore a good idea to carry your notes around with you in the last few weeks of pregnancy. This is useful if you are then taken by surprise with the start of your labor when you are away from home.
Sometimes you may only be walking to your local shops or going out for a few hours with friends at the end of your pregnancy, where lugging an extra bag around seems excessive. If this is the case, then try folding up your notes or photocopying only the essential pages and taking those along instead. Consider purchasing a drawstring bag for your back so that you will still have your hands free when out shopping or running errands. Remember that your birthing plan is what your healthcare providers will refer to when you are in labor and so having it on your person will help ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.
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2. Baby Items
I have placed baby items under one umbrella heading because there are simply so many things that you can consider taking and each mom will have different ideas. Firstly, you may wish to take a handful of baby grows, a hat and cardigan for when you leave the hospital and two cellular blankets to keep your baby warm. Scratch mittens are useful because newborn babies have long fingernails and tend to scratch at their faces.
Baby sleep suits which have long legs and fold-over hand mittens are one of the best styles that you could purchase. This is because it saves the hassle of also dressing your baby in leggings, socks and scratch mittens for example. Also, look for ones where the press-studs only go down one leg rather than join in the middle of the baby grow because this will make nappy changing and getting your baby dressed much quicker and easier.
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Nappies are a must as well as baby wipes and a barrier cream such as sudocrem. A few muslin squares or face flannels will also be very useful. You will find yourself using these flannels for everything from mopping up dribble to little accidents in the early weeks. Lastly, remember your baby’s car seat if you are leaving the hospital by car.
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3. Food and Drink
Labor is a physical marathon and you and even your partner will both need supplies to summon the strength to get through it. Staying hydrated is really important in labor too. Although your hospital or birthing center may have a cafe or vending machine, packing your own items as well can be useful because then you have more choice over what you may consume.
The most important thing is to pack a bottle of water which your partner can refill at a hospital water fountain. Fruits such as bananas or oranges are great for vitamin C and energy, and some women may pack the odd chocolate bar in case they find their blood-sugar levels dropping and that they are in need of a pick-me-up item.
You may wish to pack healthy fruit smoothie drinks or even a sandwich, it really is all down to personal choice. However, the length of your stay in hospital can vary greatly from woman to woman, so it is at least worth giving this topic some thought.
The extremely organised among you may also wish to pre-pack a consumable thank you gift for your midwives and doctors too.
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At the start of your labor you may not have much warning or time to change clothes before heading in to the hospital. The most useful item you could take along is an old nightdress with buttons down the front for breastfeeding (if this is your intended method for feeding your baby). Old knickers/briefs are best as well as some warm socks in case your feet get cold during labor. If you are having a water birth then swimwear could be considered, and you will find a bikini option easier than a one-piece swimsuit for obvious reasons. A dressing gown will also help you to keep warm and cover up in the hospital corridors.
Below, YouTuber Anna Saccone takes you through her hospital bag packing process and the items she likes to have to hand in labor.
In addition, take some comfortable clothing for when you leave the hospital such as soft leggings and a loose t-shirt and jumper. Nursing bras are an excellent consideration for breastfeeding and can make life so much easier. You may find yourself living in these for the early months after your baby is born, so getting a few pairs in advance can be very useful.
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You may wish to make a birthing CD, pack a book or magazine or even an iPad. But despite this being suggested by many hospital bag lists, when it comes down to it you may end up not using any of them! Therefore, I would recommend to take one or two of the above items but not to think excessively on this area. This is because you will probably not have the concentration power to focus on anything other than giving birth!
However, music is a relaxing background aid in labor, so making a birthing CD is useful regardless of the length of your labor. If you do not have the time to make your own CD compilation then there are some great options available to purchase instead.
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From your mobile phone to your camera, always remember to take the chargers for these technological items along with you to hospital as well. You will want to remember and capture the special moment your child is born.
In addition, if you are considering taking your own electric TENS machine for pain relief, then it is worth taking a spare battery along just in case too.
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It is certainly a more unusual item to suggest, but taking one or two drinking straws to hospital can be very useful. When lying down on your back or side, drinking from a bottle can be problematic. Your partner can provide you with the drink at a much easier angle when using a straw. They are also extremely useful after birth when you have your hands full feeding your baby, for your partner to help you take in liquids.
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8. Lip Balm
Lip balm is surprisingly useful when in labor because your lips can get extremely dry with all the excessive breathing and panting you may find yourself doing! When using Entonox or ‘gas and air’ as it is also known, your lips and mouth will get very dry, making the straws and bottle of water mentioned above very useful too.
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Taking essential toiletries is a must when staying overnight in hospital. Some of the most obvious ones to take would be your toothbrush and toothpaste. Maternity pads, breast pads for breastfeeding and nipple cream are also extremely useful, as is mouthwash in case you feel sick. Shampoo, conditioner and a body wash will also be handy, but wherever possible it is a great space saver to take miniature travel sized toiletry items.
Some people wish to take a hairbrush and makeup for those special photos too, but if you do this then remember to pack makeup remover wipes as well. In addition, it is always nice to have your own small hand towel, although most hospitals will provide a small basic one for you. If you are going to be staying on a ward with lots of other parents and babies then it can be very noisy during both the day and night. It is therefore an excellent idea to pack some ear plugs and an eye mask so that you can still get some sleep too.
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Lastly, remember your list of important phone numbers so that you can tell your family and friends the news of your baby’s arrival when it happens. Having a paper copy is useful just in case your phone battery dies. It is also a good idea to make a list of your own personal phone numbers and your hospital’s contact details to leave with loved ones such as your parents, so that they can easily follow up with you when the time comes.
This collection of items to pack in your hospital bag for labor is by no means the definitive list. However, hopefully it has offered you a few extra tips on some of the items you may not have already thought of packing. Investing in a good sports or travel bag is a great idea too, because it will be lightweight and will have lots of different compartments for all your essential items.