What to pack for labour and birth
Packing your bag
Whether you are planning a hospital birth or a home birth, it’s a good idea to pack a few essentials in preparation for the birth of your baby. If you give birth at home, it will be handy to have everything you need for the first few hours in one place, this would also be important if a transfer from home into hospital is required. If you give birth in a hospital, there are certain items you will need to take with you. Packing a bag together with your partner not only helps your partner to feel involved in the preparation for birth, but also helps when you are asking your partner to find items for you during labour or after birth.
It’s important to start considering what you need to pack for the birth of your baby from around 32 weeks gestation. You may want to pack a separate bag for yourself and one for baby so that it is easier to find what you need following birth. Ensure you take any antenatal notes, your birth plan, and anything to make your birth environment your own such as affirmation cards, and battery operated candles and fairy lights. In your bag, you will need at least two comfortable, loose-fitting nighties with a front fastening to make it easier for skin-to-skin contact or breastfeeding. Most women find a cool spray bottle, hand wipes, and lip balm useful during labour. It is important to keep hydrated so take plenty of drinks and snacks such as chopped fruit, cereal bars and fruit pastilles. Still Isotonic drinks are ideal as they have electrolytes to help you hydrate effectively and carbohydrates if you don’t have much of an appetite. Think about what might help you to relieve contractions during labour, such as a hot water bottle, a tens machine, a wave comb and essential oils that have been provided by a midwife qualified in ensuring safety and suitability. Don’t forget that induction of labour is usually a very long process. If you are being induced, you may want to take a tablet or laptop, some games, books, music or podcasts to help pass the time. Often there is a shortage of pillows in hospital, it is nice to have your own comfortable pillow, just try not to forget it when transferred to another ward or discharged. You may want to take a device and speaker to play your favourite calming music, a prepared playlist or hypnosis script. Don’t forget a charger and some change for a taxi or the carpark. You will need maternity sanitary towels and you might find it easier to take disposable knickers for the first few hours after birth. Simple toiletries such as a hairbrush, hair bands, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and non-perfumed soap would be ideal. You will need a pair of slippers and a dressing gown. Don’t forget to pack loose, comfortable clothes to go home in, you will still have a bump following birth and you may have had some vaginal or abdominal stitches.
For baby, it may be easier to create a small pack containing a vest, sleepsuit, nappy and hat for the first time you dress baby, especially if someone else is trying to find these for you. It is helpful to have a couple of hats in case one gets messy or wet, and a cardigan and socks for baby if baby gets cold. Front fastening sleepsuits are best as baby will not be laying on poppers or buttons. If you are planning to formula feed, you will need to take ready-made formula as the hospital will not have the provisions to make up powdered milk. Small bottles of formula milk are best as some hospitals do not have a fridge for storing large bottles of formula milk. If you have harvested colostrum during your pregnancy, you can take the syringes individually labelled with the time and date you expressed and your full name and date of birth or hospital number. Place the labelled syringes inside a container or sandwich bag, and to help keep the colostrum frozen, place the bag or container in a cool bag. Don’t forget to ask your midwife to put the colostrum in a freezer or fridge when you are admitted. If the colostrum defrosts fully, it will need to be used within 24hrs. You will need to pack at least 5 sleepsuits and vests, bibs, or muslins and two or three cotton baby hats. Most sleepsuits have mittens attached to them, if not, you will need a pair of mittens. You will need a packet of newborn nappies and cotton wool. Sometimes it is easier to use water wipes or large cotton pads for baby’s first bowel movements called meconium, which is thick, nearly black and quite sticky. You may want to pack a going home outfit for baby and a baby blanket. You will need the car seat to take baby home, but its best to leave this at home until after the birth of your baby.
Whether you have a hospital birth or homebirth, you will feel tired after the birth of your baby. So, preparation in advance will give you time to rest and just spend as much time as possible focusing on you and your baby. Consider making up batches of meals and freezing them. Make sure there are plenty of toiletries such as toilet roll, breast pads, maternity pads, nappies, and cotton wool ready at home. If you wish, you could have a cosy corner ready for when you are feeding your baby or having skin to skin contact with some of your favourite snacks and drinks at hand.
- Antenatal notes, birth plan, affirmation cards
- 2 / 3 Front fastening nighties
- Cool spray bottle, handwipes and lip balm
- Drinks and snacks
- Hot water bottle / Tens / Wave comb / Essential oils
- Tablet / Laptop / Games / Books / Podcasts / Music
- Change for car park
- Maternity sanitary towels and disposable knickers
- You may require breastpads dependent on length of hospital stay
- Hairbrush, hairbands, toothbrush, toothpaste, non scented soap
- Slippers and dressing gown
- Loose comfortable clothes to go home in
- Contact us for more information
- Separate pack containing sleepsuit, vest, hat, and a nappy
- 2 /3 cotton hats
- 1 cardigan
- 5 front fastening sleepsuits
- Mittens (if not already attached to sleepsuits)
- 5 vests
- Cotton wool / water wipes
- Small bottles formula milk
- Labelled colostrum
- Bibs / Muslin
- 1 x blanket
- Going home outfit
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