Hospital Bag – What to Pack
My second baby is due shortly and I’ve just prepared my hospital bag. I wanted to be ready in case I’m admitted in the weeks running up to delivery, like the last baby.
If you’re like me and having a C-section, the standard stay in hospital is five days, two for a vaginal birth but everyone is different and it’s always nice to be prepared, right?
There’s a lot to consider, you have to pack two bags, one for baby, one for you. I would pack them separately, you don’t want to be hauling baby clothes into the hospital for a pre-delivery day stay. You should also aim to have your bags packed by at least 36 weeks to take the pressure off.
So, grab a cuppa and a notebook, this will take a few mins.
Here are my personal choices, I know it seems like a lot, but mine all fit into a small carry-on size clamshell suitcase:
Bath & Hair Towels
Speaks for itself, after I had my Son, I was in a HDU bed for a few days on a catheter, dried blood on my body and generally feeling gross. As soon as I got to the ward, I craved a shower so badly. Treat yourself to lush fluffy towels! You’ll have been through a lot, you’ll deserve something to make you feel good. You’ll have just produced a human being after all! You’ve earned it, lady!
Flip-Flops & Slippers
Most postnatal wards, have wet room shower facilities, you’re sharing with women who’ve all had babies and are all bleeding. You DON’T want to be walking through the remnants of that. Buy yourself a cheap pair of flip flops for only the shower that you can dump on home day, don’t be taking them home. Same goes for slippers, get a cheap but comfortable pair for walking around the hospital that you can also dump. I LOVE Penney’s/ Primark for these, just €1 a pair of flip flops and about €6 for fluffy or fleece lined slippers.
Loose Nighties / Maternity Pyjamas
If you have a C-secton, you’ll be rather tender, the first couple of days you’ll want really loose fitting nightwear. I wore a maternity nightie for sleeping and during the day, Maternity pyjamas/ loungewear. I couldn’t bring myself to put an elasticated waistband near my wound for a few days. Cotton and breathable is what you need, not polyester when you’re in bed a lot. You sweat a lot in the days after birth, I know, it’s weird but keep yourself cool and comfortable.
Hospital rooms can get really hot at night and during the day, nurses like to open the windows and it gets chilly, bring a cardi’ to wrap around you during the day, for colder months. Even a nice fluffy blanket or throw from home to put over you both whilst you’re cuddling your baby, something you can throw in the washing machine when you come home.
Maternity Pads/ Parachute Knickers/ Panties/ Disposeable Maternity Panties
Depending on your chosen hospital, they’ll supply maternity pads. Whilst I was grateful for them, they were hideously awful, no sticky pack to keep them in place so they move about, they were like thick mattresses! In a high street pharmacy, I had bought cotton disposable mesh maternity panties and maternity pads that were a little more practical and I could dispose of them in the sanitary bin. Night time heavy flow sanitary pads would suffice. You’re going to bleed heavily for up to 8 weeks, so stock up. You can’t use tampons for the first six weeks as they’re an infection risk, your body is still getting back to normal and getting rid of pregnancy tissue which you want to be rid of.
For the weeks after surgery, I bought high waisted panties, like your Mum would wear, PARACHUTES if you will. Again, you want nothing rubbing off your wound, It takes weeks to heal so cotton knickers/panties with “a good seat” will give you comfort…who’s looking anyway? Your partner will be so exhausted with you and grateful that you’ve given them a child that they won’t CARE what underpants you’ve on. stock up on lacy lingerie when you’re back to yourself 🤣. I do however get a size smaller to give a little support. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, wear the parachute pants!
Again, this goes back to the slippers thing, keep yourself nice and cozy. I bought several sneaker liner socks, just to keep the toes warm during the day.
For when you’re going home ideally but I hate my face without makeup. I love Chanel’s CC cream and wear shade 40. It’s light but gives you a healthy glow. A little concealer for the dark sleep deprivation circles, mascara and a bit of bronzer, you don’t need much. I love Chanel Les Beiges bronzing cream, it always makes me look healthy when I feel like crap. You don’t need much. If you don’t wear make up- that’s fine!
Hospital environments can be very drying on your skin. I packed a collagen serum, moisturiser and eye gel for my face and a body oil which when applied after a shower, helps trap the moisture in your skin. Oil is lovely on the feet, on your shrinking bump and chest. Just be mindful to buy a 100% natural one, anything you apply to your breast area, makes it down into your milk supply, if you intend to breast feed, consider this, also, stay away from mineral oils. A nice natural Sweet Almond oil from a pharmacy or health shop is perfect! Almond oil can even be used on your eyes! It improves skin tone, helps reduce stretch marks and scars and you can use it on your lips, hands and feet.
I have lots of samples of creams and shampoo’s, I’ve gathered them and popped them in my bag too!
Just be careful to avoid body butters on your bump on the lead-up to your date. I had an emergency c-section last time after attending my routine clinic. I plathered my favourite Rituals Ayurveda body butter on my bump. During the surgery, the Doctor asked if I had something on my skin. I was so high on painkillers and anaesthetic that I took this as a flattering compliment and giggled it off with “Ohh yes, it’s the RED Rituals Body Butter, isn’t it fabulous!”, the response I got was a “Ehm, no, I mean we’re having trouble applying the dressings to the wound area!”. I giggled nervously like a madwoman, My Hubby and I still belly laugh to this 18 months later. So be careful about buttery greasy products.
Hair Styling Tools
Okay you won’t need all your heat styling tools. I needed a few velcro rollers on home day because I looked like a mop. I would also pack a small travel size can of dry shampoo, if you’re in a HDU like I was, your hair will feel gross, a touch of dry shampoo will freshen you up. A hairbrush, elastics and a few bobby pins.
Raid the travel section of your local pharmacy, miniature travel sized bottles are a godsend. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a travel size toothbrush and paste too! A sponge or a few flannel/facecloths are great for the shower or to steam your face to freshen up.
You’re going to go through a lot of baby clothes, probably more than you’ve brought with you, same for your underwear and nighties. Bring a bag to put your laundry in to your partner can take them home and do a laundry for you to bring them in the next day.
‘Going Home’ Outfit
This wasn’t massively important to me, it’s just nice to change into something fresh that’s not loungewear or a nightie. I’m not Kate Middleton with a host of Papparazi waiting outside the hospital main door to get a shot of the royal baby, I will be packing a cotton dress and a pair of white plimsolls. I’ll be getting straight into the car and going home to rest.
Electronics: Phone Charger, Headphones, Tablet
I bought myself a spare set of charging cables and plug to keep in my bag. A tablet is great for Nexflix and headphones speak for themselves. Keep your movies/music/facetime calls to your headphones to avoid annoying other Mamma’s
Labour takes a lot of energy, so keeping yourself hydrated and nourished is really important. If you’re like me and diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you’ll want to eat every 3 hours. I’ll be having a c-section again so I won’t need to pack that much, the hospital caters for people with GDM and provide lovely meals.
However, I will be packing a box of Nature Valley Protein Bars, some Lindt dark chocolate, 0% sugar mini cordial bottles to add to hospital water jugs and a packet of digestive biscuits (Much like Graham crackers in the US).
Hopefully the GDM will be gone a day or two after having my Daughter so I will pack a packet of snack size chocolate biscuits to have with tea during the week. For a natural birth, maybe have some isotonic drinks to help replenish energy and hydration stores, fruit or Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Bar’s or some nuts? Maybe pack something for your partner too.
Compression Socks Tip
You might be bringing your own compression socks, the hospital gave me mine. You can’t shower with them on, so, here’s a tip for you as they’re a nightmare to get back on otherwise. If you bring a plastic bin-liner with you in your wash bag. Slide it onto your leg, Put the compression sock over the bag and then pull the bag out from under the sock, repeat on opposite leg, easy as pie!
Nappies & creams/powders/changing mat.
If this is your first baby, you won’t be ready for the amount of nappies you’ll use. My son peed for Ireland, on his first few days in this world. Have a couple of packs handy, but bring in one, your partner can replensh when needed. There’s a well known baby brand who make baby powder that’s been removed off the shelves in some countries for carcinogenic reasons, avoid that. I use Caldesene medicated powder personally and I find it great in addition to a nappy creme for irritations. Don’t forget wipes and nappy bags!
Two Hand Towels
On baby bath day, normally on the day you go home, you get to wash your baby for the first time with a Midwife. It’s a beautiful experience. You’ll need two towels, one for under the baby, to lay him/her on and one to dry your baby. This was part of the training video the hospital sent me on my last pregnancy.
Baby wash, cotton balls and a Ramer Sponge
Baby skin is so sensitive, using the most gentle baby wash you can is necessary. I like Child’s Farm brand, they do little travel packs, often given in the ‘New Mum’ free bags you get from Super Valu stores, so register with everymum.ie and bring our online voucher in to collect yours. You’ll need cotton balls to clean/wipe your babies eyes and face in the bath with boiled cooled water and a Ramer Sponge for the body. Ramer material is a type of hypo-allergenic sponge that glides over the skin without damaging precious baby skin. Just a note, your baby’s skin will appear to peel like sunburn in the days after birth, this is perfectly normal, don’t worry if you see this after a bath.
Ok so there is a way to organise yourself. The trick with baby clothes is to create outfits and put them in ziploc bags which you can use again for really soiled outfits in the laundry bag.
When the midwife came to me, the night my son was born, asked me “What can I dress your baby in, have you outfits with you?” I told her to grab a random outfit bag from his own bag, I had the going home outfit bag marked. It makes it a little easier for someone to help when you’re exhausted or doped out of your mind on painkillers. It’s also helpful for you when you’re getting used to changing a baby on your bed, to have a ziploc bag with a preloaded outfit so you can keep one hand on the baby, one hand in your bag. Godsend!
I would suggest having a swap out bag that your partner can bring you when you exhange out the laundry bag, goods coming in, goods going out and you don’t have to bring the whole wardrobe with you on the first day. Don’t forget muslin cloths/burp cloths too!
I brought short sleeve body suits for under sleep suits, babygrows/Sleepsuits, bibs and baby socks. I packed 2-3 outfits per day but pack extra body suits for leakages.
Check with your hospital if they supply formula. Some hospials provide sterilising kitchenettes where you can bring your own bottles and formula, sterilising them there. I was given bottles of pre-made formula and sterile caps which were discarded after so I didn’t have to worry about making up formula or washing bottles. I could barely move after my surgery so this took the pressure off. They’ll assist you with breast feeding too, giving you a pump kit to use to encourage the flow of your milk so do ask about that. A breastfeeding specialty midwife should visit you to go over it with you so there’s no harm in discussing this on. your clinic days leading up to your due date.
A Note On Taking Baby Home…
When I was buying a pram/travel system at Baby Elegance when I was pregnant on my first born, they told me I wouldn’t be allowed leave the hospital unless I bought a carrier/carseat from them which have me a little anxiety. We had decided not to go for a baby carrier because my son was measuring really long, with the family long legs and I knew he’d only get use out of one for a month or so and I was right! I didn’t want to waste money on unnecessary baby products. We bought a car seat that went from birth to 12 years and we were sticking to our plan. I always had this unnecessary stress that they wouldn’t let me go home with the pram but of course they did. I felt it was an unfair sales tactic to bully or scare first time Mum’s into spending more money. Don’t let shops do this to you. I will discuss this in a pram and car seat review.