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23rd May 2021

10 things to add to your hospital bag (that you probably hadn’t thought to pack)

Trine Jensen-Burke

what to pack in hospital bag

When you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, there is one thing that will really hammer home the fact that you are a mere weeks (days, even) from meeting your new baby.

Packing your hospital bag is like admitting to yourself that this is really actually about to go down – especially if you are anything like me. I spent the best part of the nine months tricking myself into not thinking about labour or birth plans or pain relief, and instead focusing all my attention on super-cute organic cotton rompers and Danish made high chairs. (Note: I am NOT shallow, I just like to avoid thinking about uncomfortable things!)

Anyway, I did, of course, eventually get around to packing the bag. And there it sat by the door for what felt like ages before the time actually came. (Christmas Day – late in the evening, after having watched The Hangover and laughed so much my water broke!). And while I had got some of the content right (lovely new pajamas, my own toiletries, those cute organic cotton baby rompers…), boy were there things I wished I had though to pack too.

But you live and learn, so when it was time to do it all again, I had totally mastered the art of hospital bag packing. (Also, this time, having lived through one birth already, it was harder to pretend that this wasn’t happening…).

Note: The hospital you are giving birth in, or your midwife or GP, will provide you with the information about what exact items your labour ward requires that you bring yourself, and as items may vary, it is always good to check this out. I gave birth in Oslo, and didn’t need to bring anything but my own pajamas and toiletries, but every hospital is different.

But apart from all these standard bits that you are required to bring, here are my absolute must-pack items for your hospital bag:

1. Lip balm

Huffing and puffing your way through all those contractions can leave your lips feeling very dry and sore, so a good lip balm is a must. Treat yourself to a really nice one – you deserve it.

2. Hair-ties

When my water broke, I, to entertain myself while my family dug the car out of all the snow (this was Norway at Christmas time), GHD’d my hair into perfect bouncy curls (as you do while breathing through contractions!). Also, I wanted to look good for those after-birth pics. The innocence! Fast forward a couple of hours, my wet-with-sweat hair was sticking to my forehead, and I remember frantically asking EVERYONE if they had a hair-tie I could borrow to scrape the blasted hair away from my face. No-one did, of course, and so I vowed never again to make the same mistake. Lesson learned for Baby #2.

3. A straw

My super-sweet midwife kept bringing the most amazingly refreshing apple juice I have ever tasted for me to drink while giving birth. But the problem was, it was so hard to drink it and not spill in the half sitting, half resting back position I was in. A straw really would have made everything so much simpler…

4. More than one pair of pyjamas

I don’t want to be too graphic, but you are leaking from, like, everywhere…

5. Soft clothes and cosy layers

Hospitals can be very warm, and yet I found myself having shivers from time to time as well, so what I wished I had packed, was a bunch of really soft t-shirts, cardigans, shawls, etc. Stuff that is easy to put on and take off, preferably with one hand, as you are holding the baby up to your nipple with the other one…

6. A phone charger

You are going to take a million photos, make a million phone calls, google a million things, and eventually, your phone will die on you. Avert this disaster by remembering to pack your charger. (I didn’t, of course, and had to ring my mum, sobbing, at 1 am, just for some sympathy. As you do.) The next day, no less than three of my family members arrived with chargers.

7. Underwear that you will never look at again

In my absolute clueless-ness, I kind of thought that once the actual birth is over with, what happens down there is no worse than an average period (and I always got away easy in that department, anyway), so I packed some cute matching underwear sets (I bought knickers that matched the feeding bras), and figured I’d be fine. Wrong. What I should have packed (and did the second time I had a baby) was a 10-pack of really cheap, really big knickers that can be used once, and then binned. Because, and trust me on this, you will never want to look at them again.

8. Music

I wanted to listen to something else than myself breathing or ranting, and so I made my other half fill my little iPod with songs that I love. This one, I would totally do again, as it was actually very relaxing to listen to some background music while I was struggling with those last pushes.

9. A body lotion with no scent added

Hospital air is very warm and dry, and I wanted to slather myself in lotion to stop feeling so dehydrated. The problem was that the one I had brought in, luxurious and fancy as it was, was also scented. And all of a sudden (I blame those new mama hormones kicking in) it dawned on me that not only did I not want my brand new baby to get perfume on her delicate skin, but I also wanted to smell like me, (and of citrus fruits, which is what my body lotion smelled of), so my baby would get to know what I actually smelled like.

10. Any device you can watch Netflix on

When you are sitting up at 3.21 am and trying to keep your nipple inside your baby’s mouth long enough for the milk to actually have a chance of coming, you will be thankful to have something to watch that keeps you from losing your mind. Trust me.

Have YOU got any great tips for items you REALLY should make sure are included in your hospital bag? Join in the conversation on Twitter with us at @Herfamilydotie