There are hundreds of lists out there for what to pack in your hospital bag, but have you thought about how to pack it? Here's how to make your life a bit easier during and after labour.
1. Separate things out
What you don't want when you're in labour is your birth partner digging frantically around in the bag saying 'where's the TENS?!' Or not being able to find the wipes after you've given birth and you're faced with having to change your baby for the first time by yourself. To avoid a crazy mess of baby grows, nappies, and PJs, separate things out into the following clearly labelled bags:
- Mum clothes
- Mum toiletries
- Mum birth essentials
- Baby clothes (you can use code PREGNANT to get 1 free month of rented 0-3 month baby clothes so everything is ready before baby comes)
- Baby nappies and wipes
- Dirty items
Use packing cubes or sandwich bags if you have them, or reuse any carrier bags you already have. And if you love being really organised, use separate small bags for each baby outfit (nappy, vest, sleepsuit, hat). If your midwife needs to help you change baby, they will thank you!
2. Make sure your partner knows what's what
Walk your birth partner through your hospital bag so they a) know where everything is and b) know what everything is and how to use it. If you are using a TENs for example, they need to know how to use it and adjust it for you (in case you have other things on your mind!) Make sure they also know where you keep it in the house so they can grab it quickly!
3. Have two bags
Keep anything you want for the labour like your hospital notes, snacks, TENs etc in a small bag that you can run into the hospital with. You can keep all your clothes and post-birth stuff in a larger suitcase which your partner can bring in after you've given birth.
4. Pack a bag for at home
You may find you're spending a lot of time in your bedroom with baby after the birth and the last thing you want to do a 2am is go downstairs to find a snack. Organise a care package for yourself that you can keep bedside you. You might want to include:
- Book with night light / kindle / ipad for those long night-time feeds
- Headphones if you want to listen to music or podcasts and not disturb baby
- Snacks! Essential if you're breastfeeding - try to include some healthier snacks like nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate as well as some more indulgent ones!
- Water bottle (especially important to keep hydrated when breastfeeding) and/or thermos of tea/coffee
- Comfy feeding pillow so your back is supported when feeding in bed
- Pain relief like paracetamol and ibuprofen
- Dressing gown or jumper if you get cold sitting up in bed. (See our blog about maternity and breastfeeding clothes).
And remember the shops will be open during and after your labour so your partner/family can always run out and get anything essential!