Here’s a simple list of basics that should be in every hospital bag/s and why you need them.
20 x Nappies – Babies can poo a lot in those first few days. My 3 kids went through at least 10 nappies each in the first 24 hours, so pack 20 into your hospital bag just in case. If you are staying longer in hospital and need more after 24 hours you can always get someone to bring more to you. If you are alone and don’t have anyone to help you then it would be a good idea to pack more. In some cases the hospital will have some that you can use as well.
2 x Packs of Wipes – You will need these, and a lot of them in the beginning especially if you are a first time mum. The first poo (meconium) is very sticky and can be difficult to get off baby’s bottom.
3 x Singlets – Most hospitals like to have babies wearing singlets under their clothes, but for the first day or 2 you may only need to change the singlet daily. Babies can get by fine without them though as long as they are dressed appropriately and are wrapped in their blanket when they aren’t being held by you. You can always get someone to bring some extra singlets to you. If you are alone and don’t have anyone who can help you pack at least 5 singlets.
1 x Tube of nappy rash cream – Just in case baby gets a rash. Hospitals will usually supply some if needed but it’s good practice to have one ready just in case.
5 x Jumpsuits – these are to dress baby in. Buy size 000, even if it is a bit big on your baby they will fit for longer and will do what it needs to do, which is keep your baby warm. You don’t really need all of those super cute outfits available in the shops in the early days, and babies grow out of them so quickly that your baby may not be able to wear them all before he or she grows out of them.
3-4 Bibs – Pack a few bibs just in case baby chucks up. They will help to keep baby’s clothes clean and dry and are good for mopping up milk dribbles.
1-2 Blankets – Pack 1-2 blankets for baby. Depending on what season it is when baby is born pack either a thin cotton blanket (for early autumn, summer and late spring) or a thick warm blanket (for late autumn, winter and early spring). If baby has been having some trouble regulating his or her temperature prior to discharge from hospital you may need to have 2 blankets to help keep baby warm.
4 x Face washers – Pack 4 face washers to help keep baby’s face clean. Hospitals usually supply some, but it is always handy to have some from home so that baby gets used to them before you both go home.
6 x Terry Cloth Nappies or hand towels – Pack 6 of these in. If you don’t have the terry cloth nappies then hand towels will do the same job. They are great for protecting your clothes from chuck and milk while feeding baby, and when rolled up they can help to lift up your breast if you are breastfeeding so that you don’t have to hold it up as much and can focus more on baby’s latch.
This bag is for your things. If you have a big enough bag you can put yours and baby’s things in the same bag but for this post we are making the assumption that you will be using 2 bags.
SNACKS! – These are very important, if you are labouring, you will need some good healthy and high energy snacks to munch on to keep your uterine muscles working efficiently. Pack in a nut, fruit and seed mix, muesli bars, dried fruit, banana’s, apples and (as a treat or last resort) a bag of jelly beans and lollipops. If you are having a planned cesarean these are great for after you are back on the ward with baby. Hospital food isn’t the best tasting thing in the world (and the taste really depends on how good the chef or cook in the kitchen is!) so having some tasty and healthy snacks in your room is a really good idea and if you have fruits, nuts and seeds they will provide your body with much needed energy and nutrients needed to begin the healing process.
2 x Maternity Bra/Crop Top Bra – You need one that is comfortable and that has room to stretch for when your breasts become engorged. Even if you decide not to breastfeed the chances are high that your breasts will become engorged before any medication used to stop lactation takes effect. Pack 2 in if you have others to help bring in things for you, if you are alone with no help then pack 4 in.
1-2 x Pyjama’s – You may need these for during labour and/or during those first few nights (because lets face it, the hospital gowns are not comfortable and most definitely are not flattering to wear). If you decide to breastfeed make sure that your breasts can be easily accessed without having to lift the entire Shirt or Nightgown up above your breasts, PJ tops with buttons work well, as do Maternity Singlets with a section at the top that clips on (look for Bond’s maternity singlets, if you fit a size 10 in regular Target or Big W clothes then go for the next size or 2 up in Bonds for a comfortable fit that will also fit during the engorgement stage).
2-4 x Track pants – These will be comfortable to wear after your baby is born. Make sure that they are a bit baggy in the legs and not tight around your waist. You can also wear these home when you are discharged.
6 x Pairs of Granny Undies – These are so NOT flattering, but they are essential because they are loose and baggy and don’t dig in anywhere that might be tender. If you have had a cesarean these are essential because they come up to your waist (or just above it) and won’t dig into the incision area like bikini-type underwear do. They hold the entire maternity pad and you can put extra pads inside as well to help prevent leakage, because lets face it, birth isn’t pretty, and that first week or so after birth you can be bleeding quite heavily ( sometimes more than you would during a very heavy period).
4 x Packs of Maternity Pads – You will need lots of these during those first few weeks or so. In the first week especially you may sometimes have to change your pad 5 or more times a day to prevent leakage. For me, the first 4 days were the worst and I found myself having to change them approximately every 2 hours just to prevent leakage (I did not hemorraghe, but when you spend a lot of time lying down with baby the blood collects and as soon as you stand up it gushes out and sometimes the pads don’t soak it up quick enough and they leak everywhere, so changing them regularly every few hours is a good idea).
3 x Maternity Singlets – As mentioned above, maternity singlets are great for when you are breastfeeding and can be worn as PJ’s. Most maternity singlets have a section that clips on to the straps cover your breasts and can be unclipped and lowered on one side or both to expose your breast for breastfeeding. If you decide to breastfeed pack in 3, just in case one gets dirty or you have to stay in hospital more than the average 24-48 hours.
1 x Jacket – For when you leave. It may also help you to stay warm if you go for a walk outside or to the cafeteria as the maternity wards are kept a few degrees warmer than the rest of the hospital so that the babies can stay warm.
Camera – For taking all those photo’s of your baby, and even of your labour as well if you wish.
Phone – So that you can call or text everyone after the baby is born to let them know. If you are a twitter or facebook person then you can share with the world when baby is born. If your phone has a camera (most do these days, but you can still get some that don’t have camera’s) you can take photo’s of your labour and baby with it.
Phone Charger – To charge your phone of course.
Optional Items -
3 x T-shirts – These are optional, if you already have the maternity singlets and jacket then you won’t need them, however you can swap the maternity singlets for these if you wish, or you can mix them and pack 1 or 2 maternity singlets with 1 or 2 t-shirts.
Breast Pump – Another optional item. If you are breastfeeding or plan to pump milk for baby you can bring it with you in your bag to start using it immediately after birth.
Bottles – Again these are optional. Many hospitals provide disposable bottles for mum’s to use.
Formula – Another optional, although if you are planning not to breastfeed then pack this into your baby’s bag. Some hospitals supply formula, but not all do, so it is best to ask when you do the tour so that you will know if you need to pack it or not.
Everything else that you pack is up to you. You may have some music that you want to listen to during labour, or a magazine that you want to read, or you may want to do some puzzles. This list is just the basics of what you really need, and it can be easily altered to fit your personal needs.
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