What to pack for your hospital bag

It can be really helpful to have a hospital bag packed by about 36 weeks, just so that it is ready to go to hospital when you are. Women planning a homebirth will also pack a hospital bag just in case a transfer is needed in labour. For the most part, women stay in hospital up to 48 hours after birth. This means that you really don't need to bring very much in the way of changes of clothes. So - what to bring?

Clothes for labour

Hospitals provide gowns, but many women prefer to wear their own clothes, or even no clothes. The best clothes to wear in labour are loose, baggy t-shirts, a dressing gown (if you are cold), tracksuit pants and so on. Nothing tight or restrictive, and nothing you can't take off quickly if you want to. It's also a good idea to wear old clothes, not your best new outfit. Bring a couple of pairs of underpants for labour.

Toiletries

Tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, deoderant etc - whatever you normally use. You'll also need 2 packets of maternity pads. Ie, not panty liners or thin menstrual pads, but heavy-duty maternity pads.

Underwear

Breastfeeding bras, lots of dark-coloured, loose underpants.

Clothes for the hospital stay

Again, whatever feels comfortable. Nighties, singlets, buttoned tops, loose clothes, tracksuit pants etc. You're best to pack lightly, as anything that's needed can easily be brought in from home by a relative or friend. Slippers, shoes etc - whatever you normally walk comfortably in. After you have a baby, your feet often swell a bit, so loose shoes are the key. Hospitals can often be cold places, so give some thought to layers of clothes so that you can layer up or down as you need.

Things for labour

Food and drinks, massage oil, aromatherapy, homeopathics, herbal medicines, pillows, photos / visualisation aids, CDs / iPod, anything that makes you feel 'at home'.

For baby

Babies are small ... and therefore easy to pack for! The hospital will supply baby clothes while you're in hospital. Some hospitals provide nappies; others don't. Best to check with your hospital. In geberal, you'll need two outfits to take your baby home in. Why two? babies are notorious for pooing and weeing through outfits and this way you can have a change of clothes if you need them. You'll need singlets, mittens (if chosen), nappy wipes and nappies. In winter or cooler weather, you'll also need a beanie.

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