Here’s my kit list for a birth bag. I call it a birth bag and not a hospital bag as many of the people I work with plan homebirths. My suggestion is even if you are planning a homebirth is to have a bag in place so that you can swiftly transfer. If you want to keep anything outside the bag, put a list on the top so your partner/doula/midwife can help you collect everything to go.
Remember that people do turn up at the hospital with absolutely nothing and that hospitals have access to all the REAL essentials. A lot of these are ideas to help your labour. The midwives are fantastic at bringing you water and, in early labour, tea or fruit juice as well as small snacks so don’t feel you need to go overboard and most maternity units now have things like aromatherapy, use of balls, mats etc.
- Maternity notes
- Birth plans
- T-shirt or nightie that you feel good in or even better – your partners shirt or t-shirt so you can smell their scent (our sense of smell is particularly strong and if their smell reassures us and makes us feel safe then this is ideal)
- Old pants that you can bin
- Warm socks – your feet can get cold
- Trainers – you might be walking around for a bit – wear really comfortable shoes
- Bikini top for birth pool if you’re planning one and would prefer to not be totally naked (most women are happy being totally naked but not all)
- Shawl or cardigan (not your best ones) that you can put on or off –mums fluctuate temperatures during labour. Make sure if FEELS good so you FEEL good – ie it’s nice material not something that makes you feel itchy or annoying
- Snacks – some ideas are fruit, nuts, energy balls, honey, dark chocolate, jelly sweets
- Coconut water/sports drink/fruit juice – you need a gentle sugar hit so fruit juice is helpful – apple or blackcurrant are good choices
- Music that you like or background noise (tunes for dancing, songs you can sing along to, nature noises, etc) – it doesn’t need to be one specific type of music. You may have a longer labour and after 12 hours listening to one list on repeat might start to really annoy you (or those around you)
- Lip balm
- Hair band if need be
- A water bottle that’s easy to drink from
- Flannels/muslin for washing face/chest
- Tea towel for holding ice (hospital have towels etc so you don’t need this there)
- A sheet to cover the bed and pillow from home – needs to smell like home
- Aromatherapy kit – some hospitals will provide but a diffuser with some oils – I suggest clary sage with a citrus oil (suggestions berga-mont/neroli/grapefruit/mandarin) and then either lavender or frankincense (up to 3 oils in total) – this is my favourite combination but there are others which are lovely too
- Fairy or other low level lights to make the room low lit
- Birth affirmations
- Photos or other things to help personalise the room – maybe things from any mood/vision boards you’ve been using, maybe memories of time you were strong etc
- Blue tac for any signs or affirmations
For transfer to hospital
- I recommend large earphones to help keep your in your headspace especially if you are hypnobirthing
- Speakers for your music – ie ones that link to your phone or other music device
- Hat/scarf/shawl to help you to create privacy on the way to the hospital/ birth centre and keep you cocooned
- A sign for the door asking for privacy and anything else you feel is important (ie no wards rounds – I kid you not – I have been at a birth where 8 people have just walked in for a ‘ward round’ whilst a woman I’ve been supporting is at a really hard part of her birth being watched like a spectator sport) – you can of course tell your midwife this but bear in mind there are shift changes etc
Postnatal bag for mum
- Comfortable clothes – vests with embedded support are ideal and tracksuit trousers are very handy and some cardigans or hooded tops – I liked changing from my nightie into day clothes as you get really hot in the hospital (this is dependent on how long you might be in for)
- Nighties – with either straps that pull down easily or else buttons at the front so you can breastfeed
- Maternity pads
- BIG pants – the ones you get in the supermarkets – high wasted and that after you’ve finished bleeding you’re happy to bin. The hospital will give you disposable ones but they are very uncomfortable and you need at this time to be as comfortable as possible
- Breast pads – the best ones are re-usable bamboo ones
- Nursing bras
- Toiletries etc
- Sleepsuits * 3
- Vests * 3
- Knitted cardigan
- Something you’ve been sleeping with (ie comforter/teddy etc)
- If winter baby – a snowsuit etc
- Cotton wool or other flannels etc for cleaning bottoms
I’ve seen all sorts of things being taken to births but remember your partner will be dragging these along corridors. At times I’ve seen people pack as much as they would to take on holiday. Try to keep it as minimal as possible.
Your partner will also need a few supplies to keep them going – one of my go to things to take as a doula is porridge pots as they provide much needed energy with just the addition of boiling water so I’d highly recommend those.
If you feel there is something that is a MUST for other women – do let me know and I’m happy to add.
I’d love to see your birth bags – feel free to tag me on instagram @birthandbabyacademy so I can share your bags.
If you’re currently at the planning stage for your birth – have you downloaded the Resources Bundle?
Much love, Tricia xxx