Hospital bag - big and small

Hospital bag

The things I used and the things I didn’t.

I was going to do one of those “What’s in my hospital bag”- type of posts. Alas, I am a bit late for that, as little baby girl has arrived before I managed to finish that off. Instead, however, I thought it would be useful to do a post on what was useful and what was not from my hospital bag. Thus, future mums can evaluate for themselves if they haven’t over-packed or if there are other things to include.

The preparation

Even though that was my second birth, unfortunately, I could not use my previous experience for packing my hospital bag. Things were completely different from last time, as my first birth was in another country and another hospital.

The first step I took in the preparation for the big day was look up the recommended list of things to bring with me, published on the Bounty app under “My hospital” (I gave birth in Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading). It was quite a comprehensive list and covered what I believed to be a lot more than I needed to pack in my hospital bag. I know that future mums here in the UK are pampered quite a lot. Despite that, I found bringing my own pillowcase for example a bit too much. So, I crossed out the things I thought I would not need and only packed what I thought was essential. In the end, I had two hospital bags – a small one (backpack) for during the birth, and a bigger one (cabin-size suitcase) for our stay in the hospital.

To help me plan I also watched a few “What’s in my hospital bag” videos online. They gave me more practical, experience-based recommendations (I’ll link some of them below if you’d like to check them out). And here is what I ended up with.

Small hospital bag

Useful things

  1. Maternity notes – You cannot go without them.
  2. Slippers – Once labour was well established, I changed into more convenient attire, which also meant removing my other clothes and shoes, so slippers were a must.
  3. Own nightie – This was my choice of attire for labour. It was one I got from Primark for £5 and was super comfy – not too thin or too thick.
  4. Water and snack – I forgot to take my water, but I had bought it and it would have been super useful if I had it with me. They gave me a jug of water and some plastic cups, so I was all set with that. My snack of choice was Belvita soft bakes, filled with strawberry jam. Even though I did not feel like eating during the labour, they proved quite useful for later, because I was starving.
  5. Spare underwear – Even though I had a catheter I managed to put some pants on, as this gave me a bit more support. It also made me more comfortable moving from the Midwife-led unit to the postnatal ward.
  6. Wallet – I did not use it. However, I had my ID card in there as well as some change in case I needed to pay for something. Having it with me did give me a bit of confidence.
  7. Phone charger – I used it after the birth, so it could have been in my other bag. But, mind you, I had a pretty quick delivery, so if I had to stay longer I might have needed it.  
  8. Elastic bands – I definitely needed these. I usually carry at least one on my wrist so they were not exactly in my bag.
  9. Earphones – Very useful for during the night feeds. I did not use them while in labour, but if it had taken a while, I would have needed them as well.

Not useful things

  1. Bathing suit – I had a chance to go in the bath, but everything happened so quickly and I was in so much pain that I did not want to move too much. That’s why we skipped the bath, hence why I did not use it.
  2. Nursing bra – I had another one packed in my other bag as well, so this one I did not use.
  3. Towel – As I said – I did not use the bathtub. As for the shower after the birth they gave me hospital towels, so that I don’t stain mine with … well, blood.

Big hospital bag

Useful things

  1. Diapers for the baby – Before I was moved to the postnatal ward, we put a diaper on our little one. This was not in the bag, but we carried it separately, just because it did not fit in my suitcase.
  2. Wet wipes – I used them when changing the baby’s diaper. Although I am not a huge fan of wet wipes, it was way too difficult to wash her at every change. I went for the Water Wipes.
  3. Clothes for the baby – I had packed three outfits for our stay in the hospital in case they needed to keep us longer. However, we were discharged on the following day so I ended up using only one set. I had three wrap-over-front bodysuits (H&M) and three sleepsuits (mothercare), as well as a few hats. A hat they wanted to put almost straight away, as they said her head needed protection.
  4. Spare nightie for myself – The one I wore during labour got really messy.
  5. Spare underwear – I had packed for three days and only used a couple of the pants.
  6. Toiletries – Travel-sized shampoo, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. I needed these almost immediately after the birth. I was given the opportunity to have a shower before moving to the postnatal ward. To make myself presentable in other words.
  7. Towel – Dark-coloured one.
  8. Maternity pads – They did give me one after the birth, but I had to have more to change during our stay in the hospital. Safest would be to have at leas 1 for every two hours during the first 24 hours in hospital.
  9. Maternity sheets – I only used one of these as they gave me some from the hospital. Mine I used to put under the baby when I was changing her diaper. She did give quite a few messy poos and also tried to pee, while diaperless 😊 .
  10. Clothes for myself for leaving the hospital.
  11. Baby blanket – Very useful as I was given only one, very thin blanket from the hospital, and they recommended covering her with two. Thankfully, ours was quite thick and I ended up using just that one. It was also useful for the free Bounty portrait photo session.
  12. A light cardigan – I used it instead of a dressing gown as I do not own any, and I didn’t want to buy one just for the occasion. I only used it to cover up, while walking to the bathroom.
  13. Hairbrush – A must.

Note: The first five points here I would pack in my small bag if I was to do it again. Reason was, I needed them before I got moved to the postnatal ward and that would have saved me having to open my suitcase and rummage through it.

Not useful things

  1. Towel for the baby – I did not use this one, as it turns out we were recommended not to wash her for the first two weeks.
  2. Socks for the baby – Considering her attire, I did not use the socks, but do not regret packing them just in case.
  3. Breast pads – I did not use these as my breastmilk was not so much at the time.
  4. Witch hazel pads – These were recommended in almost every video I watched online to soothe the area where the baby came from. However, I wasn’t too sore there. In addition, one of the midwifes said they do not recommend putting anything moist there as it will help dissolve the stitches quickly, which is not something they want to happen.
  5. Nursing bra – I did not need one while in the hospital, but I guess it is a matter of choice.
  6. Arnica montana 30c and Staphysagria 30c – These pellets are, you could say homeopathic medicines. They are meant to help heal quickly, but it is important to start take them on the way to the hospital. I had forgotten about them, but it turned out I did not need them as I had a very easy birth.
  7. Discharge clothes for the baby – I thought we’d have a chance for a more “special” discharge, with the opportunity to take photos, etc. but since it was not like that, she just stayed in whatever she was dressed before.
  8. Hair drier – Once again – I thought the discharge will be a bit more special and that we’ll have the opportunity to take pictures so I wanted to make myself presentable.
  9. Make-up – Also planned to use for the discharge but I neither had the time nor the will to do anything too special.

This is basically it. Here are the videos I watched for some guidance on what to include in my hospital bag:

I’d be interested to see what you have had in your hospital bag, so please do leave a comment with anything useful you’d like to add, or even drop a link to your own list 🙂


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