How to prepare your hospital bag
An important part of getting ready to have your baby is packing your hospital bag. It’s a good idea to have this ready to go from now, and stored in a location that’s easy to grab in a hurry.
If you’re wondering where you should stash your bag, leaving it in the boot of your car is perfect. Remember that your partner will also have items they need to bring, and should have their own bag ready to go.
When you’re considering what to pack, it’s best to be guided by professionals. The aim here is to make sure you have everything you need to minimise stress during your labour and first few days as a parent. You’ll probably get information on what to bring from a number of sources, including your GP, specialist, or midwife. Books you’re reading or apps that you’re using may also provide a list. Make sure you have all the basics covered, and then you can add the personal items you value- maybe a special pillow, a lotion, or snacks that you love.
What to pack
While you’ll adapt this list to the advice you receive, and to your personal needs, it’s important to make sure that you include the following:
- Your Medicare card.
- Your private health insurance membership card if you have one.
- Your birth plan (if you have one) and maternity notes.
- Three changes of clothes to wear during labour- all loose and comfortable.
- A change of clothes or pyjamas to wear while you stay in hospital, and some clothes to wear home. Don’t forget the undies!
- Maternity bras if you’re planning to breastfeed, keep in mind your breasts are likely to swell when your milk ‘comes in’ a couple of days after birth.
- Bed socks and warm clothes. Hospitals can be on the chilly side and you might want to layer up.
- These may be supplied by the hospital if you’re planning on using disposables but it’s a good idea to have your own on hand.
- Your glasses, as if you have a caesarean, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses during surgery.
- Clothes for the baby to wear. Make sure you include socks and a hat.
- Phone charger.
- Maternity pads for vaginal bleeding.
- Swaddle or sleep bag if you plan to use either.
- Baby wipes- not just for your baby! These are great for freshening up when you’re in bed.
- Any gifts that your baby is going to ‘present’ to older siblings.
- Snacks to keep your energy up throughout the birth, including fibre-rich foods like dried apricots or prunes.
- A TENS pain relief machine if you are planning to use one.
- Anything you’d like to help you relax during or after the birth, like battery-powered speaker for music, or books to read.
Choosing a bag to use
When it comes to choosing the bag to use, select one that you would use for a weekend away. A soft bag can be a better choice, like a duffle or something you might take to the gym. Depending on the storage options at the hospital you’re going to, you might have to fit your bag into a locker or cupboard. It’s definitely not time for a huge suitcase- while you want to be prepared, you won’t thank yourself if you have the deal with lots of extra stuff and get your baby ready to go home for the first time.
What not to pack
Apart from cutting down any excess baggage, if you’re on a ward you might be quite restricted in what you can bring and store. Hospitals will often have a policy on valuables so it’s important to check ahead of time and pack accordingly.
What your partner should pack
Your partner’s packing list will be shorter, but it’s important that they take care of their needs so that they can be a present and prepared support person to you during labour.
Dietitian Melanie McGrice explains howRead more