Hospital Bag Essentials for the expectant mother

Lets face it, picking out those teeny tiny baby clothes, washing them and adding them to your hospital bag is one of the most exciting things about the nesting instinct kicking in. It certainly beats the overwhelming urge to clean the oven!
But the main question you end up asking yourself is, where do I start?

Pinterest is a great place to start, there’s countless checklists and posts out there. One thing I found was that there were loads of blog posts from the US, many of them were about packing enough for a 1-2 night stay.
Here in Ireland, if it’s your first baby, you’ll most likely be staying in for two to three days after the birth, if you’ve had a cesarean you could be in hospital for five to seven days. This post will be your one stop checklist on what you’ll need for your hospital stay.

Out of the countless checklists I found online I was still stumped as to what to bring, I had 3 bags packed, one for the labour ward, one for myself and one for the baby gear. As great as the internet is, I recommend asking someone who’s been through the whole process for a bit of advice. My friend Sophie got me down from three bags to just one with everything packed into it.

One thing I would do differently, is pack a separate bag for the labour ward. The items highlighted in Blue are what I’d add to it.

Most of these things could be found in Penneys/Primark
Hospital Bag 1

1. Towels – Bath and hair towel. You’ll want to shower!
2. Flip Flops (for the shower)
3. Wash Bag:
– Travel Sized Shampoo, Conditioner and Shower gel (Boots have a great range of travel products)
– Toothbrush and Toothpaste
– Hand and Face Wipes – Super handy and saves loads of space, I picked up these tiny packets from Penneys.
– Moisturisers (Face & Body)
– Nipple cream
Distilled Witch Hazel – You’ll hear many things from the different midwives, but the veteran ones that have years of experience were all for the idea of adding some witch hazel to you Sanitary Pad. If you’ve had an Episiotomy it will soothe the stitches, help with any swelling and will speed up the healing process. There’s so many recipes online for ‘Padsicles’ (Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Gel and Lavender Oil on the pad and stick them in the fridge/freezer) I’m sorry I didn’t try it!
Facecloth – Put this in your labour bag (Trust me) Some of the best advice I got was that a cold, wet facecloth against your forehead during labour will save your life. It’s true, and it helps your partner feel useful! 
4. Sanitary Pads- These are from Earthmother. They’re biodegradable, made from natural materials and super soft. There’s 10 pads in each box and you’ll need about 5 Boxes for the hospital and the weeks that follow.
5. Nursing Nightgowns x3 – I picked these up in Penneys in Waterford but they’ve since discontinued their maternity wear department to just a few stores in Dublin. They are however continuing the maternity underwear range- Nursing Bras, Nursing Tanks, Maternity Briefs and Belly Bands. The size 10/12 were quite big on top, if you’re on the smaller bust size then the 6/8 size are plenty loose but not gaping on top!
6. Nipple Shields– Do a bit of research on different brands. Another great website is: Once Born, the mamivac nipple shields were recommended to me in one of the breastfeeding groups on Facebook.
7. Dressing Gown
8. Button down nightshirt (For the labour ward) Pick up something cheap that you won’t mind throwing out after. Even if you’re not planning on breast feeding, skin to skin contact has some great benefits for you and baby.
9. Nursing Tanks x2 – I found these in Penneys, but you can pick up similar ones Here and Here  These ones are really good quality, they’re super comfy and they don’t break the bank, if you’re breast feeding you’ll be living in these for the next few weeks. If you’re usually a size 6/8 pick up the tanks in size 10-12, they’re quite a tight fit and the 10/12 size are longer and don’t ride up as much.
10. Mens Boxers- Pack of three. Soooo comfy!!!! Just pick up a pack, you won’t regret it.
11. Big Briefs – Pack of 5- super handy and comfy for after the birth and they’re way more practical than the disposable ones they give you in the hospital. Add one pair to your labour bag.
12. Slippers
13. Breast pads- This is a pack of 80 that I picked up in Tesco. You’re going to go through a lot of these especially if you’re breastfeeding. These are nice and soft but the boots brand are pretty good too. You can also get reusable breast pads and biodegradable ones for the eco- conscious.
14. Light, Cool & Comfy Pyjamas- The post labour ward is HOT and thanks to those PostPartum hot flushes you’ll feel SUPER HOT (and not in a sexy way) if you have guests, it’s nice to be able to cover up without feeling that you’re sweltering!
15. Socks– Pack these in your Labour bag. I can’t say I remember my feet getting cold or whether or not I was even wearing my socks. But it’s no harm to have them in there anyway.

Not Pictured above, but add a TENS machine to that list. I didn’t actually rent one, I borrowed one from the hospital and only for the fact that one lady didn’t want it, I would have had to do without, they have a very limited supply.  It saved my life! I swear, between that and Gas and Air, it’s a magical combination!
You can rent one from Boots or Mulligans.

What to pack for baby:
Hospital bag 2
1. Nappies– Pack a couple in your labour bag.
One pack contains 20 nappies which should be plenty for the 3 days, but it’d be no harm to have some on stand by at home if you run out. These are biodegradable ones, they have 30% less chemicals than any other nappy on the market. You can read a bit more about them in a recent blog post here
2. Nappy Sacks – Again these are biodegradable and lightly scented. They’re so handy for lots of things!
3. Biodegradable wipes– I used cotton wool and warm water for the first few weeks. The warm water is the best thing for getting that tar like substance (Meconium) off for the first few nappy changes. It’s so impossible with wipes, you end up using a ton! But yeah, these wipes are really gentle and contain zero chemicals! Also Water Wipes are a super alternative to cotton wool and water. You can buy them in bulk here which is much cheaper.
4. Cellular Blanket – These allow air to circulate and are recommended by the HSE, The Irish Sudden Infant Death Association and the National Paediatric Mortality Register . You can pick them up here.
5. This is the tricky part! I packed 4 baby grows and 4 vests. I thought four would be fine, It wasn’t. As it turns out, Finn was a pukey baby so the burp cloths, baby grows, bibs and vests that I packed lasted about 1 day! But you want to be able to fit everything else into your bag, yes? Pack another bag of baby stuff and leave it waiting at home. Just in case you need it.
6. Burp Cloths/Muslins pack about 6-8 of these, they’re light enough to fold up really small.
7. Mittens and Hat- A hat isn’t really necessary until you’re heading home. Some baby grows have mittens sown into the sleeve, but bring about 2-3 pairs if you have them, if not then that’s ok too, they’re not a necessity.
8. Bibs- Pack about four for starters but have more in the back-up bag!
9. Vest and babygrow for the labour ward. A friend of mine suggested bringing a resealable A4 sized bag to put the first outfit into, Vest, babygrow, mittens, as a keep sake for a memory box. They will hold the first scent of your baby and you can remind yourself of that memory. I didn’t do it, but I think it’s a sweet idea. 🙂 

The Storage bags that I packed the nappies and breast pads into are from IKEA. They’re super handy and come in 6 different sizes. They were perfect for saving space. But you can pick up similar ones anywhere.

Bag: H&M Similar here and here

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What special must have item did you pack in your hospital bag?

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