If you’re reading this post, then you’re probably nearing the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Or you’re just a super organised mom-to-be! Either way, here’s a fully comprehensive list of everything you need to pack in your hospital bag for mom and baby.
Your hospital bag checklist for when you have a baby
A ‘birth room’ bag
Of course you’ll need your hospital bag for your delivery, but you may need a ‘birth room’ bag, too. This will be a smaller bag that you take into the birthing room or theatre with a few of the essentials you’ll need to have to hand before you go back to your room. Pack a vest, blanket and beanie for baby, two maternity pads and underwear (get some of those disposable mesh panties to make your life a little easier), lip ice, hair bands or clips and your cellphone. You can leave this bag with your birthing buddy.
This includes any hospital pre-admission forms you had to fill out, copies of your ID book (and your partner’s ID) for the birth registration, and your medical aid card.
Non-slip socks, slippers, pajamas and a dressing gown
Even if you have great intentions of getting dressed and putting on make-up every day, nobody is going to judge you for dressing for comfort. If you can, opt for pajamas that button down the front to make breastfeeding – or pumping – easier.
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These aren’t necessary but may be a nice-to-have if you prefer protecting your feet while using the hospital shower. You might also be thankful for them when you’re going home and can’t bear the thought of putting your potentially-swollen feet into shoes.
Comfortable clothes to wear home
Pack something like maternity tracksuit pants (because, yes, you will still be in your pre-birth clothing when you leave the hospital – a likely for a couple of weeks afterwards) and a loose-fitting shirt or sweatshirt.
Hospital towels can be small and scratchy so bring along a big, fluffy towel from home if it will make you feel more comfortable.
Comfort is going to be of utmost importance after birth so consider packing your own pillows. You’ll appreciate the home comforts.
This can help you breastfeed more comfortably – and, bonus, it doubles up as a comfort cushion for you.
You’ll use these for putting soiled clothes in – either yours or your baby’s – when you pack up to leave the hospital.
Your regular face wash, moisturiser, toothpaste, toothbrush, shower gel and hairbrush will all need to be brought along. Dry shampoo will save you time and energy while you’re recovering and face wipes (although baby wipes work too) will help you feel a little fresher even when you can’t get up.
Bring at least one pack along to the hospital with you, but have another pack or two at home so you don’t have to head out to the shops in the first week or so of being home. If you are having a C-section, pack underwear that won’t irritate your surgery scar, and pack double the amount of underwear you think you’re going to need… for just in case. Three nursing bras, nipple cream and enough breast pads for three days should do the trick.
This includes your prenatal vitamins, which your doctor might suggest you continue taking, and any chronic medication you require.
Clothes for baby
Your little one will need five sets of clothing, with each set consisting of a vest, a onesie, socks, a beanie and a receiving blanket. This cannot be stressed enough: you will need burp cloths. These should all already have been pre-washed with baby-friendly detergent.
A full pack – preferably two – of newborn-size nappies and have a healthy stock of these at home too, so you don’t have to rush out during the first few days. Remember baby wipes and bum cream, too!
If you plan to allow your little one to use a dummy or pacifier, have at least three newborn-size pacifiers with you. You’ll need to pre-boil/sterilise them before heading to the hospital. It’s also a good idea to pre-boil/sterilise a couple of bottles if you think you’ll be using them when you get home from the hospital.
Pack magazines, books, games, a pack of cards, music, your iPad… anything you may need to fill the time – although, honestly, you’ll have your hands full with your new baby anyway.
Your cellphone, camera, chargers (an extra long one if you have it – you might be bed bound and find the charging cable is too short to reach the bed) and a plug adapter.
Notebook and a pen
You can use this to track your baby’s feeding or sleeping cycles, or to jot down notes or suggestions from your medical team.
Snacks and drinks
Yes, the hospital will provide food but you may want something special like biltong or a particular brand of coffee, and it’s often quite a wait between when you’re woken up in the morning and when they serve breakfast.
Install the car seat a few days before your due date to make sure you’ve got it in safely and, importantly, know how to use it – they can be trickier than they look!