Information & Advice
Our Mums say
"Having Mozart playing during my baby's birth made the operation a very calm and beautiful experience."
Sarah, mum to Catherine
Don't leave it until the last minute to pack your hospital baby bag! If you go into labour early the last thing you're going to want to do is to scrabble around to get everything together that you need to take with you to hospital.
The NHS says you should have your bag ready at least two weeks before your due date, but many mums on internet chatrooms say how glad they were that their bag was ready at least eight weeks before their due date. When your baby does decide it's time to make their debut, you want to be able to devote all your thoughts to giving birth.
How much to take can be a tricky balance - space for bags in hospital is limited, but you don't really know how long your labour will last and therefore how long you'll be there.
Once your baby is born, most first time mums stay in hospital for at least one night, but you might be home with baby in your arms on the same day, or you may even have to stay several days.
If you're concerned about a longer stay, you could pack a second bag to leave at home. Fill it with spares of everything, so that if you run out your birthing partner can easily find what you need and bring it along to hospital for you.
There are some things that you won't be able to put into your hospital bag until the last minute, so when the time comes, remember to also take:
Tick them off
Your birth plan and maternity notes
Important phone numbers written on paper - just in case your mobile battery is flat
An old nightie or t-shirt - giving birth is messy, so be prepared to throw it away afterwards
Lightweight dressing gown and slippers - choose a dark colour to hide any stains, and keep it thin - hospitals can be hot
Socks - your feet can get cold during labour
Hairbands or grips - if you've got long hair you may be glad to have your hair tied back off your face during labour
Snacks and drinks - don't be at the mercy of the vending machines. Pack some for your birth partner too.
Lip balm - hospitals are warm and the salt in your sweat during birth can dry your lips out
Tens machine - if you have decided to use one
Water spray - for a cooling spray on your face during labour
Nursing bras, nipple cream - if you have chosen to breastfeed
Breast pads - whether or not you plan to breastfeed, you will need pads to stop leakage
Nightie or t-shirt - front opening if you will be breastfeeding
Old comfy knickers - forget the pretty panties and take lots of cotton briefs. You'll be glad - especially if you have a caesarean, as the elastic will be right up by your waist and not near your scar.
Toiletries - decant anything you need into travel-sized bottles. Keep to the basics - such as deodorant, toothbrush and paste, face wipes (or cleanser) and moisturiser
Maternity pads - maternity pads are bigger, more absorbent and softer than sanitary towels. You will probably need to change your pad every couple of hours
Shower gel and a towel - a shower or a wash after labour will feel like an amazing luxury. It might be best to choose an unperfumed shower gel - as you are likely to be sensitive if it has been a vaginal birth
Going home clothes - keep them comfy and loose and try and find waistbands that don't sit low on your tummy, just in case you have had a caesarean. Remember, you won't fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes just yet
Cotton wool balls - for changing baby's nappy. Baby wipes are not recommended for premature babies. There are wipes available that are suitable for newborns, but many hospitals may still advise against using them until baby is two to four weeks old. Speak to your midwife if you are unsure
Tissues and wet wipes - there's always something to mop up!
Nappies - count on changing baby's nappy about 10 times a day. Make sure you buy nappies for newborns
Scratch mittens - baby skin is delicate, so prevent your little one from scratching themselves
Cardigans for baby - pack two for extra warmth, even in spring or summer
Socks or booties - socks tend to stay on baby's feet far better than old-fashioned booties
Sleepsuits - pack at least 3 or 4 in a range of sizes, but have more available which your birthing partner can bring in for you
Baby vests - take at least 3 or 4
Baby hat - for the ride home
Baby blanket - keep baby snug on the way home
Baby car seat - if you're travelling home by car make sure that you and your birth partner have already practised how to use a car seat
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