Knowing what to pack in your hospital bag can be difficult for an expecting mom, especially if this is your first hospital delivery.
Everyone has advice and opinions on what you need, so much so that your list can end up being miles long whilst you have no idea what you’ll use.
It’s a good idea to have your hospital bag packed at least five weeks before your due date in case you go into labour earlier than expected. This may feel too soon, but approximately 50% of births occur before the 38-week mark.
You don’t want to go into labour early and arrive unprepared and overwhelmed at the hospital. So, we’ve created a hospital bag checklist to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival.
Packing for mom before delivery
Before packing at all, you need to prepare emotionally and financially for this life-changing event. Parents need to ensure that they are securely covered with a medical aid and gap cover provider before falling pregnant.
It is best to get gap cover before starting a family to avoid waiting periods. However, if you are already pregnant, your baby will be covered on your gap cover policy with gap cover providers like TRA once they are born.
Labours are unpredictable, so it is difficult to know what to pack in your hospital bag that will help you relax and reduce pain during childbirth.
However, it is always recommended to pack:
Your own pillow
It’s no secret that giving birth can be a painful and lengthy process. Whilst the hospital will provide pillows and bedding, having a supportive pillow from home might help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
The average labour lasts 12 to 24 hours for a first birth. So having some sweets to snack on as you go through the early stages of labour can help maintain your energy levels.
However, all snacks should be approved by your practitioner.
A back massage can be excellent pain relief for some moms during labour. Bring lotion or massage oil to reduce muscle tension.
This item is not essential. However, studies have shown that a birthing ball is an effective tool for reducing pelvic pressure and lower back pain during early labour.
Packing for mom after delivery
Lightweight, front-opening cotton pyjamas (one set per day)
You’ll spend a lot of time in bed when recovering in the hospital, so pack a few comfortable pyjamas to sleep in.
If you plan to breastfeed, pack a few nursing bras and front-opening pyjama shirts to make the process easier.
An outfit to wear for going home
Moms often plan their baby’s going home outfit but forget about themselves! Don’t forget to pack your own clothes to wear home and make sure they’re comfortable and non-restrictive.
Heavy-duty maternity pads
The hospital will provide some maternity pads. However, if your flow is heavier than expected, you may want to pack some heavy-duty ones.
Also, be sure to pack comfortable underwear that is large enough to wear over maternity pads in your hospital bag.
Lip balm and moisturiser
The decline in oestrogen and progesterone levels after labour and delivery can cause many women dry skin and chapped lips.
You’ll want to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hair ties, deodorant, and other hygiene items that form part of your daily routine in your hospital bag.
Hospital bag checklist for your baby
Three sets of washed baby vests and babygrow
New parents often underestimate how often newborn babies will need to be changed. However, most hospitals recommend packing at least three sets of vests and baby grows for the baby to wear in the hospital.
Don’t forget to add baby socks and hats to the hospital bag checklist.
Going home outfit
A long-sleeve footed pyjama set will be perfect for your baby to wear home. You’ll need a warm beanie and a pair of socks if it’s cold outside.
The hospital will likely provide blankets. However, you can wrap your baby in your own blanket for the car ride home.
Whilst this definitely won’t fit in the hospital bag itself, it is recommended to install your car seat around the same time you pack your hospital bag.
What to pack in your hospital bag for your birth partner
Snacks and water
Adding snacks and water to the hospital bag checklist for your birth partner will ensure that they can focus on you and your baby during labour and delivery and do not have to run out to grab food or drinks when needed.
Change of clothes
The hospital will likely let your partner sleep on a couch or chair next to you. Be sure to include a comfortable change of clothes on the hospital bag checklist along with their toiletries and other essentials.
Phone, camera and chargers
You’ll want this day to be documented. Make sure that your partner has everything they need to snap some pictures and keep your friends and family updated.
Your hospital bag checklist and birth plan
If you have a birth plan, we recommend sharing it with your partner before going to the hospital. Discuss your thoughts on pain medication, episiotomies and your expectations of the doctor.
You can also give them a hospital bag checklist for last-minute items that they must throw in your bag before heading to the hospital.
Your partner may need to be your advocate during labour. So, giving them the birth plan and hospital bag checklist can help if any last-minute questions arise.
Things that can typically stay at home
Towels are always provided and changed regularly. You don’t want to have to keep a used towel in your hospital bag until you get home.
Jewellery is often not allowed in the delivery room if you require a caesarean. Therefore, we recommend that you leave all jewellery at home, so it doesn’t get lost or misplaced.
Nappies and wipes
The hospital will most likely provide nappies and wipes, so there is no need to add nappies to the hospital bag checklist.
If you’re unsure what to pack, ask the hospital for a list of provided items ahead of time. This will keep your hospital bag checklist down to a minimum and highlight what you need.
Make sure you’re covered
Everyone’s hospital bag will look slightly different, but it is best to be overprepared than underprepared. Think carefully about what you’ll need and decide which items will best suit your birth plan and new family.
Giving birth can be an unpredictable experience, and therefore, hospital fees are often expensive and come with unexpected costs.
This is why it is best to be securely covered with a gap cover policy that can cover the shortfalls between the rates charged by the hospital and what your medical aid pays.
TRA gap cover offers a myriad of gap cover benefits to support pregnant families, including the Maternity Private Ward Benefit. TRA will cover the shortfall between the general and private ward rates for hospitalisation related to childbirth.
This allows TRA members to enjoy the benefits of having a private ward during this intimate time without paying the extra cost so that you won’t also have to pack your life’s savings in your hospital bag.
Regardless of what you pack in your bag, it is best to feel prepared in as many ways as possible to help you enjoy this life-changing moment without worrying about extra financial costs or forgotten items.