What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag For You and Baby
Deciding what to pack in your hospital bag can be an exciting part of getting ready to meet your new baby. Comfy clothes. Snacks. An adorable outfit to take baby home in.
Running through a hospital bag checklist can make any new mama feel one step closer to the time she finally gets to hold her new bundle of happiness.
But, like most things mamas must decide as “labour day” gets closer, choosing what to pack, and what to leave at home, can be tricky.
We spoke with Monique Maitland about what every mama should pack in their hospital bag. Monique is a midwife, nurse, host of the Middee podcast and founder of online pre- and post-natal community The Middee Society. Be sure you have all the essentials – plus a few treats – with Lactamo’s hospital bag checklist.
When should I pack my hospital bag for birth and beyond?
Choosing the perfect time to pack your hospital bag should be easy. But, despite that all-important due date, sometimes things don’t go to plan and baby has their own arrival schedule.
According to the latest government figures, almost 1 in 10 babies born in Australia arrive before their due date – so it’s smart to be prepared.
“My advice is to start thinking about having your hospital bag complete by 36 weeks.” Monique often says from 36 weeks because it means it’s one less thing that you have to remember to do later on in your pregnancy when you are feeling a little bit more exhausted. It also gives you an opportunity to see if there are any additional last minute purchases required before meeting your baby.
Monique’s most helpful tip for new mums: If you happen to forget to pack something - that is more than okay, someone can always drop it off!
Will my hospital bag checklist change depending on my birth?
Once again, while new mamas might have an ideal birth plan sketched out, there is only so much we can control. A natural birth could become a cesarean, and vice versa.
The good news when packing your hospital bag there really is not much difference for a vaginal birth or a caesarean. The only thing that may vary is the length of stay within hospital and that just means you may need to pack some additional clothing and undies for yourself and some additional onesies (incase your little bubs decides to wee, poop or spew on their current onsies).
Monique says “Don’t over think the packing, add an additional piece of clothing for you and your baby incense your length of stay increases. This may be due to having a caesarean or complications after birth for either you or your baby.”
What items don’t need to be packed in my hospital bag?
When you’re deciding what to pack for your time in hospital, think in practical terms. You may be sharing your space with other new mamas and so taking everything but the kitchen sink isn’t going to work.
If your partner or support person lives close to the hospital remember they are perfectly capable of bring extras in if you need them. Taking only the absolute essentials will help keep your space uncluttered and make it easier to find what you need, when you need it.
Hospital Bag Checklist
There are five items which Monique always recommends every woman should take with them to hospital no matter what type of birth they are having.
- Nappies & Maternity Pads: You will need to pack nappies for your baby. Majority of hospitals will not supply nappies, however they will have stock on hand in case you forget or run out (you’d be surprised by how many women forget to pack nappies). As well as this, remember maternity pads for yourself. Either disposable pull ups (such as partum panties) or your generic maternity style pads.
- A drink bottle with a straw: Why with a straw you may ask? Because when you’re in labour or breastfeeding your baby sometimes our hands are full and opening a lid can be challenging. Having a drink bottle with a straw makes staying hydrated so much easier which we know is super important for Mama’s!
- A small night light: The reason for this is because hospital lighting can be so bright for both you and your baby especially in the middle of the night. You may also be sharing a room with another woman and can feel awkward turning on the light in case you wake them. I really love having the touch of the night light to make feeding your baby & changing your baby so much easier.
- Long phone charger: Hospital powerpoints are often impractical for Mama’s as they can be out of reach. Having a longer charging cable means that you can have your phone on charge but still access it whilst resting in bed or feeding your baby.
- Eye mask: Mama’s really need to prioritize their sleep postpartum but once again bright lighting within the hospital in combination with shared rooms can make sleeping not so easy for you. Not only this but after being up overnight you may find yourself wanting to have a sleep during the day in between feeds. This is when an eye mask can come in handy. Similarly, ear plugs can be great during the day when someone like your support person is watching your baby so you can rest.
An additional tip from Monique would be pack your own Pillow. Why? Because a hospital pillow is not going to compare to your own.
Here’s a full hospital bag list to help you pack.
Does my partner need a hospital bag too?
If your support person or partner is allowed to stay with you, they’ll need some essentials too. These include a change of clothes, toothbrush, and their own phone and charger to keep friends and family updated.
One of their most important jobs is getting the baby capsule professionally fitted in the car if you’re going to be driving home. Some hospitals offer this service. Each state and territory will have authorised fitting stations which you can find online.
While not essential, many new parents like to take a few items that may help create a more comfortable space during labour or afterwards that can include:
- A playlist of favourite tunes
- Lip balm or hand cream
- A favorite wrap or warm scarf
- Massage oils or an oil diffuser
- Large refillable water bottle
Packing the essential breastfeeding items
Every woman’s length of stay can vary but routinely a vaginal birth would be a 24-48 hour stay (1-2 nights) and a c-section mama would be around 72 hours (2-3 nights). So, it is a pretty quick turnaround for women to get back home & often your milk has not even yet transitioned in.
Monique explains that having a breastfeeding pillow can be beneficial to bring to the hospital but leaving it in your car until you move to the postnatal ward is best.
Monique also gets asked “do I need to bring a breast pump to the hospital?”. No, certainly you do not. Hospitals will supply hospital grade pumps which you can use when available. The quality of these pumps are often much better than the ones you will have at home. Your midwife or a lactation consultant will help you navigate pumping if it has been identified to be beneficial for you and your baby.
“The most beneficial breastfeeding aid to bring which is also very practical for your hospital bag as it is small and compact would be the incredible Lactamo ball”. Monique advises that she most commonly sees women begin to experience engorgement within the hospital between day 2-5 postpartum. “During this time you may notice your breasts feel fuller, firmer, uncomfortable and warm to touch this can make it difficult for your baby to attach to the breast. Engorgement occurs due to a build up of milk, blood and other fluids in the breast, causing a very uncomfortable rock-hard, sore breasts. This is why the Lactamo ball can be a saviour and provide some relief through gentle massage from something other than your own hands or midwives hands!” Often women just don’t want to be touched anymore says Monique.
One final note from Monique – “Happy packing mama and enjoy this special time!”