Your birth bag is about having a few things to hand to help you feel more comfortable. Whether you are planning to have your baby at home or in hospital, it can be useful to have a few essentials in case you need them It can seem like you are taking a lot in to hospital but some of it can stay in the car and it may be better to take more so it’s there if you need it.
Here’s a few ideas for you…
For your baby…
• Nappies, cotton wool, wipes
• Formula and bottles if you are planning to formula feed or you want it as a back-up – the ready-made bottled formula can be the easiest option.
• A blanket
• A couple of muslin squares
• 4 sleep-suits and bodysuits
• A hat and a pair of socks
• Car seat to take your baby home
Some parents keep additional birth bag items in the car in case they need them or if they are in hospital for a bit longer
For labour & birth…
• birth ball and a V pillow to help keep you comfortable – many maternity units have birth balls but yours will be familiar to you and having yours means you continue to have options.
• a picnic to keep you both going plus chocolate buttons, jelly babies, fruit, nuts, simple sandwiches and isotonic drinks. Honey sticks can also provide a quick energy boost.
• a blanket, dressing gown and socks for comfort and warmth – some women get shivery in labour and others want to feel cosy.
• relaxing music, especially if you have used it in pregnancy. A phone with headphones can be useful so you can focus and stay calm.
• a small battery-powered fan and/or water spray to help you cool down.
• straws or a water bottle to make drinking water easier.
• your birth plan/preferences/wishes, your maternity notes plus your labour & birth guides to remind you of positions, relaxation and breathing.
• lip balm – your lips can become dry during labour, especially if you are using gas & air.
• an inflatable bath pillow – perfect for leaning against in the birthing pool.
• hair clips/bobbles if you have long hair.
• some women also like to use Rescue Remedy to help keep them calm.
• massage oil and any aromatherapy oil you may have used in pregnancy to help you relax.
• TENS machine – but ideally start using this from early labour at home.
• toiletries – so you can freshen up and brush your teeth: this can be
re-energising if labour lasts for several hours.
• small hot water bottle or a heatpack for your back.
• earplugs if there is noise.
• any medication you might already be taking.
• a nightdress and a bikini top if you want to get in the birthing pool, although you may end up wearing nothing.
If you are being induced…
All of the above plus:
• you might be waiting for labour to get started so it can be useful to also take in plenty of things to keep you busy and distracted – download a movie or two onto a tablet or laptop, take a book or some magazines and anything else you do such as knitting, drawing or cards.
• a TENS machine.
• have music to help you relax – being able to relax is important when you are being induced.
After you have given birth…
• a towel
• pyjamas / comfy nightdress
• comfortable, loose fitting clothes
• big pants and a comfortable bra
• maternity pads – some mums also talk about using TENA pants instead because they are more comfortable than pads
• breast pads
• sports bottle for water
• phone and charger
• food, drinks and snacks
• V pillow for feeding
• Food, sweets and drinks
• paracetamol for any headaches and any other medication that you might be taking
• a change of clothes and toiletries to freshen up
• shorts & t-shirt – it can be hot in hospital and you might also want to get into the birth pool
• phone and charger
• money, including change
• a copy of the birth plan/preferences/wishes
• Labour & Birth Guides so you can support with breathing and positions
• pyjamas if you are staying overnight
Some parents have talked about taking a blow-up mattress or camping mattress into hospital for partners to use – they have kept it in the car until they need it. This can mean rest and sleep for during an induction, if an epidural is being used and everyone can sleep for a while and postnatally. Pack a sheet and a sleeping bag as well, just in-case you need them.
For your recovery at home…
In addition to your birth bag, it can also be worth preparing your house for when your baby is here so you feel ready for bringing your baby home…
• Stock your fridge and freezer with meals, fruit and favourite snacks
• Changing areas – it can be useful to have nappy changing options upstairs and downstairs if you live in a house.
• Make the bedroom a comfortable space to rest and recover with: snacks & water pain relief v cushion for feeding
• maternity pads/TENA pants
• some women want to use cooling pads on their perineum, or they pop maternity pads in the fridge to cool
• breastpads & nipple cream
• any medication you need
This might seem like a lot to take into hospital with you but it can be more beneficial to take in more to increase your options, just in case you need it.
If you are planning a home birth, it can still be useful to pack a birth bag of useful items – this means they are easy to find when you need them and you still have the things you need if you should transfer to hospital.