For my first pregnancy I spent ages packing my hospital bag, and definitely over packing it as well. It was packed weeks in advance, and lists were made. I think that I must have packed pretty much all my maternity clothes along with every single baby vest and sleep suit we had at the time.
Truth be told you don’t actually need loads of clothes for you or the baby. If you’re in for a few days after the birth you will most likely be in a hospital gown, or comfy PJs, and your baby will not need the number of clothes that some books and magazines may tell you.
So I’ve compiled together an honest and essential list of what you actually need to pack in your hospital bag, that accounts for the possibility of having a c-section and a longer hospital stay.
Bottles of water
This may seem like a really obvious one, but you will be surprised by how much water you will get through. Hospitals are renowned for being boiling hot, and the last thing you want to keep doing whilst in labour is to keep asking your midwife for water.
I found this invaluable when my daughter was born. Although I ended up having a c-section, I had a 60 hour labour prior to this, and just pressing that button on the TENS machine whilst in the early stages definitely helped to ease the pain. Plus it also gave me something to take my mind away from those contractions.
Take plenty of these. I spent just under a week in hospital and I got through a fair amount of chocolate, sweets and crisps in that time. Labour is long and you will need something at hand to keep you going, and to keep your energy levels up too!
Big black pants
I never bothered with the paper knickers and instead bought 10 pairs of big black pants. You will need these. The aftermath of childbirth or having a c-section is messy, as you will bleed (a lot). I found Tesco big black pants to be the best, as they came up really high over my incision.
This may sound like an odd one, but if you intend to breastfeed or give your baby your colostrum in the early days, you may need to syringe it from your nipples if your baby has trouble latching on. The hospital may provide you with these, but take a few more as you will get through them pretty quickly. Using a syringe is also a great way to see how much your baby is getting, which is something the midwives will want to know.
You will need these if you are breastfeeding. They are really easy to use and just unclip from the front compared to a normal bra. For your hospital stay you will probably only need a maximum of two, or one will suffice.
This may not seem like an essential, but after childbirth and once you’ve had a shower, you will probably want to apply a bit of mascara or lippy to make yourself feel better. Plus you may also want to be looking a little less pale or tired for all the baby photos and any visitors.
Having a shower after my c-section was a terrible experience, I could barely stand up. However it was something I was craving, and packing those miniature travel toilettries (shampoo, conditioner and shower gel) was well worth it.
If you do stay in hospital overnight then use an eye mask. The bays and wards are really bright, and you will need your sleep. So it’s best to grab a few hours of shut eye in the dark as best as you can.
The bathrooms in hospitals can be pretty grim, so make sure that you pack a pair of flip flops for trips to the toilet and shower. If you’re due a summer baby it’s also good to have a pair of flip flops to go home in, as you may not be able to bend over very easily.
Comfy going home outfit
I have never understood why there is so much focus on the going home outfit. You need this to be comfy, something that you can easily wear and something that doesn’t irritate any wounds or scars. This is not the time to be trying to get back into your skinny jeans. After my c-section I went home in a pair of leggings and vest top, as these were the only clothes that I could bare to touch my incision.
For your baby
Clothes and a hat
You don’t need to go overboard here. I would pack 5 vests and 5 sleepsuits, and no more. If you need more you can send your birthing partner home to bring more. A hat is also valuable especially if your baby is born during the colder months of the year.
Nappies and Wipes
I can’t place a figure of how many nappies you will need. So I would be prepared and take enough for 2 days. A newborn baby needs more frequent nappy changes than a slightly older baby, so maybe pack about 20 nappies. We also never bothered with cotton wool, and instead went straight to wipes, so also take a pack of these.
Ready Made Formula
Even if you intend to breastfeed it is always worthwhile packing a few bottles of ready-made formula. You may struggle with breastfeeding initially or your baby may not latch on. Having been a first time Mum who experienced just that, I wish that I had packed a few bottles in my hospital bag. It may have prevented the 11% weight loss, and all the worry and anxiety it caused in the beginning. Please be reassured that there is nothing wrong with taking ready made formula into hospitals. I am a firm believer that a baby should be fed, and mum should be happy, rather than mum struggling and worrying. You can at the same time continue with breastfeeding.
If you are going to take ready made formula in your hospital bag you will need to take some bottles to feed the baby. We initially started with the Tommee Tippee bottles, and this time round I want to try the Minbie bottles in the hope that we can easily switch between breast and bottle.
Alongside this there are many other items to pack including your phone, camera, and phone charger. You may also want to pack a book, magazine or music to distract you. For your baby you may also want to pack a few muslins, blanket and a soft toy. One thing you do not need is scratch mitts as they just fall off and many newborn sleepsuits come with built-in ones.
Here is also what other bloggers would recommend to pack in their hospital bag:
Then there were three says “A hand held fan that spritzes water! I didn’t realise how hot I would get during labour and all I wanted was water thrown in my face and to be fanned.”
Mummy and the chunks says “For a c-section I really recommend those huge disposable pants! They sit high above your cut and it doesn’t matter if they get bloody.”
Hi Baby Blog says “I had an emergency c-section and the thing I packed which I really appreciated was a water mist spray – I think mine was an Evian one. I found the ward very hot and it helped me feel more comfortable. With a catheter / stitches it wasn’t easy to hop up and move to sit near a fan etc.”
Leelee Loves says “If having a ceasarian pack night shirts instead of pyjamas. You won’t want anything pushing on the incision.”
Sophia Ella and Me says “Plenty of maternity pads! You will still need them after a c-section too.”
Something About Baby says “My must have for an c-section is peppermint tea for the trapped wind – I didn’t pack any for my second csection as I didn’t suffer after my first but suffered BAD after my second!”
Flying with a baby says “A pillow from home. It’s so nice to have something from home and an extra pillow helps with comfort! I so agree about the fan and water spray too.”
Me, him, the dog and the baby says “Food! I had an emergency section and was in hospital for 2 weeks. I wanted home comforts when I could finally eat and not the rubbish hospital food.”
So that’s my list of what to pack in your hospital bag especially if you know or if you are likely to have a c-section. Even if you are planning a natural birth it is best to prepared for every eventuality.
Also do not worry about the hospital bag for your birthing partner, that is their responsibility…..not yours. You have enough to do in the final few weeks of your pregnancy, whilst trying to remember to relax at the same time. Just make sure that they remember the baby car seat, and enough change to pay for the hospital car park.
I hope that this list helps, and I wish you the best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy and childbirth.