Hospital Checklist - All the Essentials
So you're about to meet your baby - the excitement and the anxiety is high, but there is one final thing left to do - The Hospital Bag.
It is no secret that the likelihood of you delivering on your actual due date is slim. And whilst I will not begin to attempt finding stats on the likelihood of a baby arriving early, I think it's safe to start getting prepared by Week 35/36.
For your hospital bag, you will need things for both you and your baby, and potentially your partner or a friend, if you are planning for somebody to join you at the hospital. Below you will find all my recommended essentials:
Babygrows - you will need to pack at least 4. I remember, first time around my baby soiled his baby grow pretty quickly, and I ended up staying a day longer than planned so in total, I needed 6 grows for a 3 day stay
Vests - to keep the baby warm, they will be wearing a vest underneath their baby grow, so I recommend 4-6 vests
Baby Hat - to keep baby feeling nice and cozy post delivery and to travel in when leaving hospital. I recommend a pack of 2-3
Scratch Free Mittens - newborns have surprisingly sharp nails and no awareness of hand motion and so they can end up scratching their delicate skin very often in the early days. To prevent this, most baby grows have folded mittens built in them. If yours don't you can always get Mittens on top. They usually come in packs of 2, I recommend getting 2 packs as they are easy items to misplace
Bibs - as your milk doesn't come in straight away, you may be doing a formula bottle feed whilst in the hospital, in which case, bibs are important for keeping baby's clothes nice and clean
Muslin Cloth - to keep on anyone who holds the baby as a protective and clean barrier for their delicate skin
Baby Blanket - to wrap baby in after delivery, and to cover baby in when you leave the hospital
Travelling Suit - depending on the time of year your baby is born, you may or may not need this. I've had both a hardcore winter delivery (snow and all) and a crazy hot summer delivery. With the winter delivery, I had to pack a soft, thick and super warm snow suit to take baby home in. With my summer delivery, a blanket was fine
Car Seat - when taking baby home from hospital you will absolutely need to keep baby in a car seat at all times. Although I don't recommend you to bring the car seat to hospital (on top of all the other things you'll be bringing), you'll have to ensure that whoever picks you up has a suitable new born car seat fitted in for the journey, hence I've added this essential in as a reminder
Water Wipes - these are about to become your absolute life essential, for at least a few years or so
Diapers - although the hospital will provide these, if you have a specific choice (some women prefer eco) then bring your own
Tena Lady Pants - I put this first because it is my absolute must-have for a hospital bag and the thing I recommend the most to anyone who asks. Post delivery, you will experience pretty heavy bleeding which can go on for up to several weeks. Immediately after delivery though, it is at it's peak. And the reason why these Tena Lady Pants are just so effective (they are essentially adult diapers) is that they are just so quick and seamless to put on, especially when you may be in a little pain or discomfort post birth. They are very durable, much more so than the alternative they give you in hospital and are just so hassle-free. Pack one packet and check for your appropriate size.
Hair-tye - when labour is going on, trust me you will not want to have your hair all over the place
Toiletry Bag - filled with some make-up essentials, should you want to apply a little bit of make-up post delivery for some nice pictures, I'm talking lip balm, eye-liner, a tinted moisturizer - the essentials for a natural, I-woke-up-like-this type of glow. And also filled with your go-to bath products (toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturiser, shower-gel, shampoo etc) - I actually picked up some really nice mini toiletries for the hospital and in that first shower post delivery it was nice to have a little bit of pampering with some delicious smelling products. Anything that is a mood pick-me-up in the early days is just so worth it
Water with sports cap - hear me out with this one. So this was a little tip I was told at my pre-natal classes (which were excellent from The Bump Class) and it was so incredibly useful. As labour progresses, it's likely you'll be on a hospital bed, and you could be in a lot of pain. Hydrating throughout is made so much easier when you have a sports-cap, to avoid any spillage all over you when you're in an already uncomfortable position.
Night shirt - night shirts are pretty important for two reasons. The first is that they are so much easier if you plan on breastfeeding, and the second is that you will be bleeding heavily after birth (regardless of your delivery type), and changing your Tena Lady Pant or Sanitary towel is just SO much easier when you are wearing a night shirt. Get one that is super comfortable, but be mindful that you may get some blood stains on it. I packed 2 nightshirts
Night dress and Slippers - you may be walking around the delivery floor, especially if you choose to keep your baby in a hospital nursery overnight
Light loose day clothes - you'll want to feel very comfortable after delivery, and so having really loose and cozy clothes will be key
Pillow - this was another nice tip I received at my pre-natal classes. You will likely spend a good portion of your time in hospital, lying on your hospital bed, and if you really want to feel very comfortable and relaxed, bring your own pillow from home. Just make sure it's not got a while pillow case, as it may get confused with the hospital pillows. Just FYI, hospital pillows are very plasticy and not so comfortable. I didn't end up taking my own pillow, but it was a nice option to think about
Hospital Outfit - you will be leaving with your baby to go home, which really is such a moment, so you may want to think about you want to leave in. First time around, I delivered in London over the winter which was -1 degrees and snowing, and so I packed an IZAAK AZANEI cashmere tracksuit and sneakers with a huge coat, and looked pretty haggard and exhausted, looking nice was probably the last thing on my mind. Second time around, I delivered in 30 degree weather during a London summer, and packed a light cotton dress, the nature of both deliveries were very different, and I felt so much more myself after my second delivery, and wearing a nice outfit to leave hospital in really was a nice little pick-me-up
Snacks - you won't be able to eat post epidural, but it's worth considering some snacks for either your partner or for the next day or pre-epidural
Phone charger - so easy to forget!
Underwear and Socks - enough for 3 days, to be on the safe side and preferably black underwear (as things can get a little messy)
Wash Bag - for any dirties, the risk of blood stains on clothes isn't small
Camera - I personally used my phone, but for those more gifted photographers, you may want to take your own professional
Items for your partner - clothes, toiletries etc
Things to organise when going into Labour (you'll likely have your mind totally pre-occupied at this point, so your partner, family member or friend can take care of the below):
Pregnancy Notes - remember that folder you took to every single gynac check-up? Well on the day you go into labor it will be likely you'll forget it (I did, both times), and whilst it won't be the end of the world as someone can always go back and get them, it is safer to be more organised if in case there are complications or any pre-existing conditions, or especially if your chosen OB is suddenly unavailable on the day of delivery
Breast Pump - if you're looking for a super efficient and strong breast pump, then you should look into a hospital grade pump rental. The time you'll save pumping is significant and they really are the best available, allowing you to pump on both sides at the same time, seamlessly and for a very small amount of time. These can be rented from most pharmacies at a very reasonable monthly rate
Simple Wishes Pump-Bra - along with the pump, there is this great add-on option you can get online from Amazon, which allows you to pump (on both breasts) hands-free. Genius! So you can pump and read a book, unwind for a little bit - it's truly a game-changer
Cord Blood Banking - I'm not going to go into the pro's and cons of this, as it's a very personal decision, but should you wish to do any type of cord blood / stem cell banking, you do need to call your chosen company when you go into labour to ensure they reach in time
Something Sweet for the Nurses - you will hopefully have a pleasant experience in the hospital and be aided by some exceptionally kind and hard-working nurses. Welcoming life into the world is truly the greatest miracle of life, and if someone can help you on our journey to motherhood, they are certainly worth a little bit of appreciation. First-time around, I sent some edible treats to the maternity ward on the day I left, but second time around, my husband brought in a cake for all the staff. And it really was so nice to be able to thank the excellent nurses, even if through a tiny gesture.
I hope you find this list useful - above all, it is real, honest and fully un-sponsored. Welcoming your baby into the world is a daunting experience, for sure. But it can be incredibly beautiful, and it's worth getting excited about the process. If there's anything you think is an essential that I've forgotten, please feel free to reach out with your experiences. We always love to hear from you.