If you're pregnant then you may already have given some thought to starting a hospital bag checklist. You might even already have ticked off some of the essentials, like your toothbrush, a camera, and an adorable outfit for the baby to wear home. But there are so many more must-have items that you'll need – plus many bits and bobs that while not absolutely necessary, will make you feel so much more comfortable during your hospital stay.
The NHS advises packing, "At least two weeks before your due date". Although it doesn't hurt to do this even earlier. Here to inspire you are some brilliant ideas for what to include on hospital bag checklist, including essentials for your partner to bring too! And when it comes to bags, there's no need to go out and buy a new one - just use your baby's changing bag as your overnight bag. Simple!
For the baby
Clothing - bring 2-3 sleepsuits, cardigans and outfits for your little one, plus a hat and mittens if it's cold.
The car seat – Install this in the car before you leave for the hospital if possible, to minimise stress. You could even practice with a teddy a few days before your due date so that when it comes to strapping your baby in for the first time, it's not all brand new!
Toiletries – pack whatever you think you'll want pre and post labour. For some women, a small bottle of luxurious shampoo is pure heaven after spending the night in hospital whereas for others, a few spritzes of dry shampoo is ideal. Pack whatever you like, but a toothbrush, toothpaste, facial cleansing wipes, soap, deodorant, moisturiser and a hairbrush are all likely to come in handy. And bringing your own soft roll of toilet paper to avoid NHS standard stuff, will be a blessing after a natural birth!
Lip balm for cracked lips - hospitals tend to be hot and dry.
Hair tie or headband if you have long hair.
A soft pillow or your own pillow from home - the pillows at the hospital may be uncomfortable, so bringing one of your own could help you to relax.
Magazines, books, or an iPad. You'll probably need something to keep you pre-occupied while you wait for things to kick in, so bring some light reading or download some of your favourite shows to watch (comedies will help you feel more relaxed). This is not the time to tuck into Great Expectations, mind - keep reading material light and easy.
Your own towel. Hospital towels tend to be thin and scratchy, so pack a soft, big, bath towel for that glorious first shower after the labour.
Nipple cream - for breastfeeding mums to keep your nipples from chapping and cracking.
Bendy straws - these are great so that your partner can put a drink to your mouth without you worrying about holding the bottle.
Arnica cream is great for relaxing muscles after the birth.
An old t-shirt or a comfortable nightie for the labour. Wear something that you won't mind getting messy or ruined.
A wide opening pyjama shirt or nightie will come in handy when breastfeeding.
Warm socks – hospital floors are very cold and many women say that although they felt very hot during labour, their feet were freezing!
Nursing bras if you're breastfeeding.
Plastic bags to put any laundry in. Also, sitting on a plastic bag on the car ride to the hospital is a good idea in case your water breaks (you don't want to worry about getting the car cleaned while you're in labour!).
Comfortable clothes to go home in – remember that your tummy won't have gone down yet so don't try to get into those pre-pregnancy clothes just yet.
Flip flops for the shower or for walking around in whilst in labour.
For your partner
Identification documents, hospital forms, your hospital notes and a birth plan (if you've written one). Keep all important forms together and let your other half be in charge of all the admin.
Fully charged phone and a phone charger, but be aware that not all hospitals allow you to charge your phone.
Cash and spare change. You don't want to arrive at the hospital and then realise that you don't have any money for the car park! Spare change will also come in handy for buying snacks before and after the birth when the hospital canteen may be closed.
Snacks and drinks. The hospital is likely to have places where you can purchase these but it's best to have something on standby – for mum and dad! Lollipops and sweets are especially great for dry mouth during labour.
A camera to capture your baby’s precious first moments.
Pen and paper to help you and your partner remember any tips or advice from the doctors and nurses, but also to jot down your thoughts afterwards while the labour is still fresh in your mind. It could make a lovely keepsake to share with your child one day.
An extra bag. Because you will definitely leave the hospital with more stuff than you came with!
A playlist to help distract and relax you. Let your partner be the DJ with some pre-made playlists - just make sure they're already downloaded, in case the hospital's Wi-Fi is spotty.
Stock up before your bundle of joy arrives by visiting our Baby and Toddler site for all your essentials.