With HB, I spent AGES deliberating what to pack in my maternity bag. My friend, whose little one had a similar due date to myself, sent me a list of everything I needed. There were a LOT of things on it. And I packed them all, and then some (apart from the dressing gown – I’m not really a dressing gown kind of person). Tom even got a bag (which we never brought as when we went in, we were actually expecting to be turned back).
For HB, we had two bags – one for him and one for me. I honestly thought that it was overkill, that we wouldn’t need half the things, but it turned out all the things we didn’t need, we did. And all the things that NCT told us to bring (like candles, speakers for your music, an iPad to watch movies on) were completely forgotten.
My first mistake when packing our maternity bag was at the shops themselves. I went in to buy babygrows from John Lewis. I didn’t even twig that the newborn size even existed so stocked up on 0-3 month old clothes instead. Big mistake. Unless you’ve birthed an actual watermelon of a child, most babies need newborn clothes. We had to make an SOS call to my sister to pick some up for us. I’d also say, when shopping for baby clothes, there’s a lot in white. WHITE IS SO BORING. Get something more colourful! It hides the poo marks better…
You’re told that from 37 weeks your baby could land ANY DAY NOW. Which really isn’t helpful as the midwives scared the shit out of me so much I barely left the house. And that got boring pretty quickly. But have your bag packed by then, or at least the very essentials which I’ve put an asterix by in case you’re pressed for time.
Most of the time, when you get your first contraction, you’ve got time to have some food, a shower and get a fresh change of clothes on. This is essential! You’re going to be sweaty and hot and bothered so making sure you’re feeling clean will get things off to a good start. And don’t forget to choose what to wear wisely! At some point, the bottom part at least is going to come off, so make sure it’s easy to get in and out of; you definitely don’t want to be struggling to get out of some jeans. For GD, I wore leggings and a loose T-shirt (it was a fairly warm day) and took my Birkenstocks too because by that point, shoes which required any manual doing-up was out the question.
For GD, I used a soft bag which my mum had actually taken to hospital when she was having myself and my sister. I had some drawstring bags too which I used to easily separate some of the baby’s essentials. In one, went nappies and wipes, and in the other, went his clothes.
Everyone also says to take snacks. Snacks are great but you never know what you want until you’re there, and even then, there are usually lots of vending machines and a café to get food from. I did find having an easily accessible bottle of water was a life saver – labour can be thirsty work. Both my labours were pretty short so I wasn’t that keen on eating. I munched on some Coconut Merchant dried coconut during HB which were delicious but at the time, my mouth was too dry to chew it properly. However, that light sweetness was a great energy boost. With GD, he turned up less than an hour after I arrived at hospital so eating was the last thing on my mind.
If I were going to have another (an ongoing debate in our household), this is what I’d pack – and I’m also assuming I’d be there one night at the most:
- 4 pairs pants – I bought a size larger than I was as I wanted to be comfortable and if I did need a C-section, I didn’t want them to chaff.
- Pack of maternity pads – at UCL at the birth centre, they handed me a couple (and I also found a couple extra ones in the room I was in) but you definitely need a stash of your own.
- 3 maternity bras
- Couple of boob pads – I found it took a few days for my milk to definitely come in but if you’re there for a few days, you’ll need them. I really like the reusable bamboo or cotton ones.
- Lansinoh nipple cream – it’s less of a cream and more like really thick Vaseline. If you’re planning on breast-feeding, here’s a word of warning – IT BLOODY HURTS! And Lansinoh helps make it that little bit better.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- 2 pairs dark-coloured loose comfy trousers – I bled a LOT after HB, so much so that every time I stood up a gush of blood ran down my leg. I bled a lot less with GD and I put this down to having the injection to help ‘birth’ the placenta.
- Pair of socks
- Eyeliner – I never go anywhere without eyeliner!
- Belly band (not the tight constrictive one, but the stretchy material one) – you still look pregnant after you’ve had your baby and your belly feels like jelly. Plus, all your insides are jumbled up and starting to re-position themselves so it feels weird.
- Nightie or PJs – most first time mums are kept overnight just in case. We avoided this for GD as he was born in the morning and we were desperate to get home.
- Hairties – if you’ve got long hair, tie it back. You don’t want to be in the throes of labour and getting annoyed by the hair in your face. Likewise, if you’ve got a fringe, use one of those stretchy headbands.
For the baby
- Half a pack of size 1 nappies
- Pack of baby wipes – I really liked the Water Wipes but now I’m more of a fan of the Kit + Kin biodegradable wipes. However, for the first 3 months with both of them, we used cotton wool and water, as advised by the hospital. But honestly, wipes are so much easier!
- 2 baby hats – when your baby comes out, it’s wet and having a hat helps keep the heat in.
- 3 babygrows in size newborn
- Comforter – there’s absolutely no reason why you need this. But I wanted my little one to have something cute.
- 2 x muslins – use them for breast-feeding, swaddling, for mopping up sick, as a blanket…
- Cardigan or coat – for keeping the little one warm when you get to go home.
- Baby blanket
- Bottle of water
- Bottle of Lucozade
- Flapjack – something sweet which you can nibble on
- Bag of crisps – save these for post-birth!
- Kindle – this is more for after; they make you wait approximately 8 hours after birth before they even consider letting you go so if you can’t sleep, something to read is nice.
- Phone charger
- Towel – they provided a towel there for me to have a shower with which is fab as you totally get blood all over it, but I’d also take an extra towel too.
- Deodorant, bodywash and shampoo and conditioner – for your post-birth shower!
- Car Seat
- Flip-flops – at the birth centre with HB, we had a night in our own en-suite but I reckon with GD, they’d have tried to move us to a more communal sleeping arrangement so you’d have to share a shower. And the communal showers can be gross.
I hope you find this useful! Is there anything else you’d make sure you’d pack?