It’s never too early (or late) to sort out the essentials you’ll need for labour and childbirth, and for the days following the birth of your baby. We’ve enlisted our resident midwife Erin Gregory to talk through what you should pack in your hospital bag, plus a handy, printable hospital bag checklist you can refer back to when the time comes to get organised.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK IN MY HOSPITAL BAG FOR DELIVERY?
Have a copy of your antenatal/pregnancy record, birth preferences and Medicare, healthcare, or health insurance card on hand at the time of delivery. Pack multiple pairs of dark, full briefs as well as maternity pads or overnight pads (you can also make your own postpartum padsicles); period cups and tampons aren’t the right option for postnatal blood loss. A loose t-shirt, singlet or lounge wear is perfect for labour and easy to slip off for skin-to-skin with your baby when they’re born. Pack slippers or thongs so you don’t have to bend over (and for heading home with swollen feet), and remember warm socks as cold feet during labour is common.
Regular hydration in labour is super important to help your uterus stay strong, so pack a refillable water bottle. Many hospitals provide heat/cold packs, but bring a few extra for the car trip in, and home again. These are great over the front and back of your pelvis and between your legs when your pelvic floor muscles are working in labour.
In your toiletry bag pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, a hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, fragrance-free body wash, hair ties, moisturiser for face, deodorant, and massage oil: massage can help ease working muscles and human touch helps boost oxytocin.
If you like listening to music bring headphones, or a bluetooth speaker — I prefer music played out loud to create atmosphere and focus.
And lastly, snacks! Yes, the hospital will provide food but your body is healing and needs to replenish the energy used to birth and recover. Not to mention when you’re breastfeeding, particularly during cluster feeding hours in the early evening.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK FOR AFTER THE BIRTH?
Comfortable, dark underwear is key — pack one pair for each day you’ll be in hospital, plus one emergency pair, and a few crop tops or wire-free maternity bras, even if you’re not planning to breastfeed. Bring one set of casual separates that you can feed in each day. And pyjamas or a nightie with in-built breast support. I also recommend bringing an abdominal support garment or recovery band that may aid in your postpartum recovery.
ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES IN WHAT YOU SHOULD PACK FOR LABOUR IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE HOSPITAL, OR FOR A C-SECTION?
Not much changes in the way of your hospital bag. However, if you’re having a C-section, it’s a good idea to pack clothes that are easy to get on and off without much bending, and choosing high-waisted underwear that won’t cut into your healing abdominal area — as a guide, a C-section wound sits around your public hairline and is about 10cm long. You will also have an IV running for at least the first day so a top or nightie with buttons is helpful.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK FOR MY BABY?
One of each below for every day, plus one spare: All-in-one jumpsuits (size 0000, or 000 for full-term), singlets to put under the jumpsuit, and breathable, muslin swaddles.
For the total stay: Two beanies, socks and mittens (if your jumpsuits don’t have them attached), a small bottle of organic baby wash, baby blanket and rear-facing car seat capsule.
WHAT DO A LOT OF MUMS PACK, BUT RARELY USE?
Many women don’t end up using breast pads in the first few days (of course, some do) so one box is plenty. Generally, you won’t need nappies and wipes, baby formula or feeding supplies, such as bottles, because these are supplied, though always check with the hospital or birthing facility.
ARE THERE ANY RULES FOR HOW TO KNOW HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD PACK?
Depending on your length of stay and who is available to replenish your supplies, the amount of stuff you need will be different. Often private hospital length of stay is 4-5 nights and 2-3 nights at a public hospital, so look at the list and multiply it by the amount of days you are expecting to be there. Pack extra if there isn’t anyone to easily replenish your supplies: one backup outfit and spare pair of underwear. And double the baby list if you’re having twins.
WHEN SHOULD I PACK MY HOSPITAL BAG?
If you’re super organised be authentic to that, but if you’re a procrastinator by nature, there’s no need to change who you are — I packed my bags while in labour. Between 34-36 weeks is a good balance. A Post-It note on top will remind you what needs to be added at the last minute, such as your toothbrush in the bathroom.
ANY OTHER TIPS FOR ORGANISING THE HOSPITAL BAG?
Have one bag for you, and one for your baby. Or one side of a suitcase for you, and one for your baby. Place an outfit for you and your baby at the top of your bag so your support person, partner or midwife doesn’t need to pull the whole bag apart looking for things.
Erin Gregory is tooshies’ resident midwife expert and the founder of kinsho, a childbirth education platform that empowers birthing mothers and partners to create positive, joyful outcomes, with less negative emotional and physical implications. She also supported the births of all three of our founder Aimee Marks’ children. To learn more about Erin visit kinsho.
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