Packing for a hospital birth

preparing for birth

When you’re heavily pregnant, one of the last things you are likely to feel like doing is leaning over a suitcase, guessing at the items you might need during your stay in hospital – if that is where you have chosen to give birth.  It helps to not have to think this all through yourself in the later stages of pregnancy, so the following are items to consider putting in your hospital bag, as well as things that may need to be packed for others (including your baby!).

When to pack

Birth being an unpredictable event for most people, the best answer to the question ‘when to pack’ is: as soon as you can manage without the items you need to pack, put them in your hospital bag.  Put your list beside the bag and tick things off as they go in, so if you need to leave in a hurry you know what still needs to make its way to your suitcase.

What to pack

Giving birth is different for everyone and you’ll know the things that are important for you to take to hospital with you, if that’s your plan. Below is a list of things that you might like to consider.

You may like to take two bags with you when you check into the hospital or birthing centre: one for the things you will need before birth and one for after – and a toiletry bag to serve both periods.  If you’re being induced, the bag for before birth may need to get you through a few days.

Before birth:

  • Underwear
  • Supportive bras
  • Socks
  • Pyjamas
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Snacks
  • Your Maternity Notes book if your Lead Maternity Carer does not keep this
  • If you do not wish to wear a hospital gown for birth, pack the item you would like to wear
  • Any medications you need to take
  • Your own pillow if this will make you more comfortable (put a bright coloured pillowslip on it, so it will stand out and you will remember to take it home)
  • Reading material – including any reference books you want on-hand about birth/breastfeeding or similar and recreational reading material
  • Phone/tablet and charger(s).

Toiletry bag:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hairbrush and hair ties for longer hair
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deoderant
  • Chapstick
  • Moisturiser
  • Soap/body wash.

Following birth:

  • Breast pads
  • Maternity pads (the hospital is likely to provide you with enough for a few days)
  • Extra pyjamas
  • Maternity bras
  • Clothes – select some that fit when you were in your second trimester, and ensure you could breastfeed in them if this is your plan
  • Snacks – breastfeeding can make you feel ravished 24/7, so be prepared to not just get by on hospital meals
  • A notebook – so you can record the events surrounding birth for your future reference (this also makes a lovely gift to give to your child one day).

For the baby:

  • Infant capsule or carseat: you will need to have these approved by hospital staff before you are able to head home with your baby
  • Infant head support for in carseat
  • A warm hat
  • Booties or similar
  • Scratch mittens – or small socks, which go on tiny hands to prevent newborns from scratching themselves
  • Natural fibre light blanket or wrap suitable for swaddling
  • Light (as hospitals are constantly warm) nightgown or similar with easy opening for changing nappies
  • Wipes – check the ingredient list to make sure they are safe for newborns
  • Nappies – the hospital will have flat cloth nappies available, but many people prefer to bring and use their own.  You will at least need a couple for when you leave for home
  • Going home outfit – this is often specially selected before the birth as it will likely be photographed.

For support person:

  • Camera and extra batteries/charger
  • List of people to be contacted following birth
  • Snacks/drink
  • Wrist watch
  • Change of clothes in case they want to freshen up
  • Anything requested by the woman about to give birth such as: massage oils, CDs and player, wheat bag/hot water bottle etc.

If you have other children

Once the arrangements have been made for where they will stay over the birth period, try to organise what they will need in advance and leave it at the location where they will be staying.   Pack a couple of changes of clothes, some non-perishable snack items, pyjamas, a few new/special toys, books or colouring items etc. and make a list of any routines that should be observed. This way, when you’re in labour only minimal preparations need to be made such as toiletries, ‘lovies’ etc. You may also have to think about a range of contingencies – what will happen if you go into labour at night; while they are at school or care; during the weekend etc…

Packing your bags is part of preparing for the birth – the less things of a practical nature you have to think about in labour, the better!  So consider your time spent in advance packing what is needed, as time well spent.

Sally Mangai

Sally is the Community Manager here at Kiwi Families. She fills her time with her handsome, busy boys and her handsome, busy husband; trying out new recipes and researching and writing about family life in Aotearoa.

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