What Do You Pack in Your Hospital Bag?

Writing from experience you may want to get your hospital bag ready earlier than you think! I hadn’t and when I was suddenly told I was being induced at 35 weeks I had a bit of a mad dash around Boots to get everything I needed.

It’s hard to know what to pop in your bag so that you don’t look like you are arriving for a month long holiday but also ensuring you have everything you need for your baby’s arrival.

When it comes to what to include you need to think of yourself, both during labour and after, your baby and your partner. I actually packed two bags. One for labour and immediately after and a second smaller bag (I used our changing bag) with things for baby and me after the birth. Try not to pack too much as you don’t want to be rummaging around to find what you need.

Although you always hope you won’t have to stay in hospital long you just never know. With Molly I ended up being in for four days as she was a bit poorly and in Neo-Natal so I had to keep getting Edd to bring extra supplies in. On that note, I actually left a pile of PJs, clothes etc at home just in case and it was easier to be able to tell Edd to grab the things I had left than trust him to find what I wanted!! Obviously if you know you are likely to be in longer or having a c-section then you can adjust the quantity of items you take accordingly.

I pre warn you that a lot of things for yourself aren’t uber glamorous but they are essential! To make it easy for you we have even provided a handy pin.

PIN THE LIST

hospital-bag-checklist

For You

  • Hospital Notes and Birthing Plan – These are essential to remember so make sure they are safely in your bag.
  • Comfy t-shirt/nightie for during labour – It may get messy so don’t buy anything special or just go for a cheap option.
  • Warm socks – Bizarrely although the rest of you is boiling during labour your feet get very cold.
  • Front opening PJs or nightie – After birth you may or may not stay in but clean pjs are a must and if you are planning to breastfeed front opening ones will be best. Hospitals can be hot so don’t go for your thermals!
  • Dressing gown and slippers/Flip flops – In case you fancy a wander whilst in labour or afterwards
  • Lip balm – You will find you get very dry lips so I found lip balm a life saver
  • Hairband if you have long hair
  • Magazines, books or music – In the early stages you may need something to pass the time and music can be calming later on so choose your track list wisely!
  • Water spray or hand held fan – You may not want your other half dabbing you with a wet flannel but a nice water spray or fan works wonders
  • Drinks and snacks – It is important to keep your strength up and keep hydrated. Go for water or isotonic drinks. You won’t want anything too sickly but bananas, oat biscuits and some muesli bars work well. Saying that, if you fancy a Mars bar go for it!!
  • Black knickers and disposable knickers- In truth you won’t want to be wearing these again so I opted for cheap supermarket multi packs.
  • Hand Sanitiser – Belive me, you will use this a lot!
  • Toiletries – Decant in to smaller bottles or buy travel sizes to save space. Deodorant is a must as you can find you sweat more after birth.
  • Towels, Hairbrush and toothbrush
  • Maternity Pads – These are essential and quite a lot of them. Also make sure you have a good stock at home for when you get back.
  • Nursing bra and breast pads if you are planning to breast feed
  • Comfy clothes for travelling home in – Don’t go thinking you are going to home looking all glamorous! Those that do are few and far between. You need leggings or loose trousers and a loose fitting top. Your bump will have gone down but you probably won’t be back in your normal clothes yet.

For Your Partner

  • Fully charged phone – Make sure they have a list of everyone you want contact after the birth. Either programme in the phone or write down a list.
  • Camera – For capturing baby’s first pictures
  • Cash/Change for the car park
  • Snacks and drinks – Obviously the hospital is likely to have places to purchase these but believe me you don’t want your other half rushing off mid way through labour as they are a bit peckish!

For Baby

  • 5 Sleepsuits and 5 vests – These are essential. It can be hard to judge what size baby will be but I’d suggest you go for newborn or 0-3. If you have a teeny baby or equally a large baby then you can always get people to bring things when they visit.
  • One pair of socks – You can pop these over sleepsuits if they get cold toes.
  • Hat and Cardy – Ideal for keeping baby warm and cosy.
  • Nappies – You may need a whole pack as babies can get through a lot!
  • Muslin Squares – Ideal for everything!
  • Going home outfit – You may want something special but a comfy babygro is best. I had a cute one set out for Alice but she ended up going home in her vest as we were having a heatwave!
  • Car Seat – The hospital will normally want to check that you have securely fastened baby in before you leave

Do you have any top tips of things to take with you? Was there anything that you forgot?

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Lottie loves teaching her girls to be cake baking and crafting supremos. It may be messy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Follow Lottie on instagram @buttercreamanddreams

68 Comments. Leave new

This is such an excellent list Lottie!

I have a few things to add that were saviors for me…
Headphones… I listened to music during labour and found it really helped me stay calm and work through contractions. But I preferred having it in my ears than playing throughout the room. Weird, but worked.
A Tennis Ball… My husband rolled this on my back when I was getting sore. The pleasure of the massage definitely helped in the early stages.
Massage Oil… My legs and feet got horrendously swollen, so my husband massaged my legs to relieve the pressure (and kills some time). Everytime I smell that oil now, I think of the last few hours we were a family of two.

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A tennis ball?! What an ingenious idea. Love it! Massage oil is a great idea. I had my mum with me as well who is a trained reflexologist so I got lots of nice foot massage whilst I was waiting to go in to labour (I was induced). Definitely helped. xxx

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Honestly, I still get him to use it on my back. It’s just the right amount of pressure without being prodded by clumsy man thumbs. And he can’t complain about getting tired, but then let’s be real… No man should ever complain about anything during labour. Ever.

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Ha ha ha ha!!! Definitely not something you want to hear from them! I remember Edd told me to hurry up so that baby would be born that day. It was meant to be encouraging but really it was our wedding anniversary and he wanted a reason not to forget it again! Alice was born a few hours later but one year on, guess what? He forgot her birthday was also our anniversary! Men! x

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Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
27th October 2015 9:37 am

Naomi we use lacrosse balls and so I totally get what you mean about the right amount of pressure plus because they’re so smooth you don’t get that sticky hand to skin soreness if you haven’t got any massage oil about!

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Bendy straws!! So you can drink in which ever position you happen to be in at that particular moment! Hubby was king of the straw and I feel it gave him purpose. They’re also handy while breastfeeding.
I swiped a couple extra when I was in pret.. Hehe!

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Great tip Jo! x

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Witch hazel gel is good for putting on your pads to sooth any soreness/stitches etc and I was glad to have that in my bag!

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I have heard great things about Witch hazel for this purpose. Lots of people swear by it x

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This is such a good post. The tip about leaving a pile of clothes at home just in case of longer stays. I packed for an overnight stay but ended up being in for three days when I had my little girl. My husband brought me some clothes in…..a summer dress that I’d worn on our honeymoon two years before I got pregnant, a pair of gym leggings and a strappy top. Useful! Xxx

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I was trying not to sound like all men are useless but they aren’t the best at choosing clothes! With our second girl I was hoping not to stay in but did and then my husband bought the most random selection of clothes in for going home. We were having a heatwave so I could have done with your summer dress!

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I had my mum bring in Andrex Moist toilet tissue post birth and would recommend it’s in your bag!

A nice hand cream all that have gel dries out hands.

A dark bath towel for showering (I got a cheap one from Asda)

I packed a mouthwash too as I was too knackered to brush my teeth afterwards! Husband used it too to freshen up! Oh for partners maybe bring a change of socks and pants etc just in case it’s a long one! Or if they’re like my husband just got hot and wanted to change!

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This post is a god send. I am 26 weeks pregnant and want to try and get organised pre Xmas. I’ll be printing this list and adding any other suggestions that come in. Thank you.xx

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I placed a nappy, vest, sleep suit, cardigan and blanket in a small bag/pouch at the very top of my bag so my husband could get to it easily when it was time to get our new little bundle dressed. It saved a lot of rummaging 😉

I also took a pack of sanitary wipes and feminine wash for me and brought a pack of disposable changing mats to place where I sat & slept which is probable more an essential item for at home as the hospital provide these during your stay xxx

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Love your organisational skills Lorna with the small bag. Top tip x

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I would add: painkillers (paracetamol) as the hospital I was in seemed to take longer than 4 hours, prunes or prune juice as trying to ‘push’ was sheer agony and the hospital eventually gave me something about 24 hours later. Boiled sweets as gas and air makes you very thirsty, and a straw (!!) it Doesn’t take up much space, but a lot easier to drink water out a cup that way! Finally, cheap pillows – this was a tip from our NCT teacher and my lovely soft pillows were amazing compared to hospital pillows.

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Great tips Nikki. Thanks x

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I had a special plastic cup which had a lid with straw and a stick inside which went in the freezer to keep the contents cool. I wish I’d taken earplugs as it was very difficult to sleep on the ward.
My baby was unexpectedly huge at 10lb 9oz and didn’t fit the newborn size clothes! I would definitely go 0-3 as they fit fine and if you’re not used to dressing a baby it is easier to use clothes with more room in them.
I’m going to buy a cheap dressing gown especially for my hospital bag as mine got waters on it during labour! Then in the days after it got blood and milk and all sorts on it so would definitely be good to have a spare.
I took make up last time but wasn’t well enough to put it on I think I still will pack some though a case of hope triumphing over experience!

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Agree on how difficult it is to sleep so earplugs is a great idea! x

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I hate packing and left it as long as possible before actually doing it…about 37 weeks much to my mum’s horror! For the last minute items I wrote a list (wallet, phone etc) and made sure dad to be knew where to find everything. The one thing I would definitely recommend is not to stuff the bag to the brim. I was quite chuffed with myself squeezing everything into one small case but I was moved 7 times and poor dad to be had to shuffle along corridors with a half shut suitcase over flowing with gear because the moves were quick and he couldn’t easily shut it again. Fortunately I was in labour so he couldn’t tell me off 🙂

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I can just imagine your husband running along the corridor leaving a trail of baby gros behind him! x

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So we pretty much were one of those couples who looked like we were moving in! We had a rucksack of labour items, another for post-birth and a small jute bag of baby clothes, nappies, wet wipes etc! But that’s only because we had very set ideas about what I wanted to use during labour. LED tealight candles helped create a calming atmosphere and we also had a Neals Yard frankinscence spray as this helps relaxation and breath control. I also needed to pack a bikini as I had a water birth.

I wish I had taken paracetamol with me as the hospital were slow to give me these, I think I had 2 doses for the 29 hours I was having contractions!!

My tip would be to purchase your dressing gown, PJs and knickers from places like Asda or Primark. You will likely chuck these away after birth so no point spending a fortune. We also ended up going out when baby was 4 days old as we only bought 0-3 and she was smaller than expected so had no clothes that fit her! Asda do a “first size” which I think goes up to something like 9lbs so would recommend a pack of vests in that size.

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Oh, forgot the swimwear for a water birth! Sounds like you had a nice relaxing set up which is definitely needed x

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I had a partial water birth but I never bothered with swimwear I just stripped off! #noshame

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Make sure you include a good bar of soap is in your toiletries (I forgot any soap and had to use shampoo…doh) as feeling clean and fresh afterwards is amazing.

Also whilst the moment isn’t about vanity, I was so glad I brought a small make up bag as applying a few items the next day made me feel like me. Plus it was nice that photos in the hospital with my daughter Lottie don’t all feature me looking a bit washed out.

A pretty blanket was also great, as Lottie was a winter baby and it meant that I was confident she was all snugly and warm when we took her home. ? xx

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I definitely wish I had looked a little bit better in my pictures Claire! x

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Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
27th October 2015 9:42 am

Claire having my make-up bag was a must for me and I don’t think it is about vanity. It’s about feeling ‘comfortable’ – whatever that means to you. My hospital photos would have looked a darn sight worse if I hadn’t had a bit of slap on! And I second the pretty blanket too!

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A little tip – I kept my hospital notes in the car at all times during pregnancy that way I always had them when going to appointments and we didn’t have to remember to find them when going for the birth.
For me stuff like magazines and music would have been a waste of space in the bag, though I can see if you were induced they might be necessary.
Also stuff like flip flops for the shower – would you really be bothered about this after you’ve been in labour for umpteen hours? I know all I wanted to do was wash my hair and the floor of the shower was pretty clean! I wouldn’t have felt stable enough to have wet flip flops on!

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Great tip about keeping the notes in the car! I was forever putting mine somewhere safe that I then couldn’t remember! x

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I agree with pretty much everything on this list and its basically what I took when I went in with my first….I’m now 9 days overdue with my second, sob sob.
I would defo take flip flops as despite never having swollen feet during my pregnancy they went up like balloons after labour so I needed to wear them on the way home.
I am actually going right now to pop a tennis ball in my bag as forgot to get a massager and first time round my husbands hands got so sore massaging my lower back. Good idea!!
My labour must haves which you have on your list too were lip balm, facial water spray and hand held fan. Xx

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Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
27th October 2015 9:45 am

Nikki wishing you a speedy labour very soon! Really won’t be long now xx

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Paracetamol and ibuprofen- where we live the hospital won’t give these out after labour, and with a constant migraine caused by a botched epidural I lived for drugs for days.

Glasses if you wear contacts, and lens fluid.

A pamper pouch of expensive, lovely mini shampoo, conditioner and shower gel to remind you you are human after labour. Boots 3 for 2 all the way!

A pack of ballpoint pens with lids for acupressure points- Google Debra Betts obstetric acupressure for more on how to use these.

Chargers- I was pleasantly surprised to find each bed had a plug socket.

Bikini top if you want one for water birth.

I used a hand luggage size case with two compartments- one for me, one for baby! Call me a loser with too much time on my hands, but each thing went in a Zip Lock bag and was labelled- no excuses for his nibs!

Great list, really helpful. Good luck soon to be Mamas!

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I second packing outfits in freezer bags and labelling them! I was induced at 35weeks and was in hospital for 9days afterwards so having baby outfits set up (vest and babygro) helped my husband as he juggled no sleep, working and me in hospital to bring in the right stuff for the baby.

He did well with my stuff but I did write specific descriptions of clothing and it’s probable location!

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A note on arnica- you can buy veterinary grade tablets online which pack a mighty punch but won’t do you any harm- I did this and popped them like candy!

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Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
27th October 2015 9:49 am

If there was one thing that I wish I’d packed more of then it would be water. I must have got through about seven bottles of evian even though my labour was only an hour and a half long; I ended up drinking both my own and Ste’s stash of drinks! I hadn’t anticipated I would be that thirsty so it’s something I’ll be bearing in mind for baby no 2 when he/she appears. The other thing I found is that I veered between feeling freezing cold and then getting too hot. Next time I’ll be taking a blanket that I can pop round my shoulders or whip off as necessary.

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That list is great. I’d add water wipes to it. They’re baby wipes made from almost 100% water and midwives let you use them on baby instead of cotton wool and water, which is possibly the biggest faff of all! I still use them now, they’re the best for when your little ones have sore bottoms and you don’t want to use any chemicals.
The other tip, that a friend gave me, was that your birthing partner either helps pack your bag or at least spends some time looking through it to acquaint themselves with where everything is. Otherwise you end up shouting things like ‘no, not that front pocket, the other front pocket’ mid-contraction when they are trying to find the thing you need RIGHT NOW! x

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I’m an ‘over packer’! the midwife even commented on it and as I’m sure they see lots of eager mums packing everything and the kitchen sink I took that as a sign that perhaps my case was a touch extreme!
I’ll definitely try to be more selective this time around (however this is our 3rd so we really have no excuse this time!)
I think the best tip I could add is to try to use a case on wheels – if you have to move around it is really useful! also – dry shampoo, I have super long hair that takes forever to dry. I definitely needed to wash my hair post labour but if I’d had to stay in much longer I would have just used dry shampoo to freshen up to save hassle. Lush do a great powder version which isn’t an aerosol called ‘No Drought’ which is lovely and will be well used once you get home because let’s be honest, washing your hair becomes less of a priority post baby!

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I am 100% with you on the dry shampoo front Amy! I didn’t want to wash my hair… mainly because there’s no way to dry it so dry shampoo was the perfect temporary fix 🙂

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Thank you Lottie, this is brilliant! Am sending this link to my husband so he can be designated hospital bag packer when the time comes. 😉

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I love that you trust your husband to be designated bag packer!! x

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Great post Lottie (and lots of good tips from others too!) I’ve been putting a few thing aside but really need to actually get everything in one place, and at 35 weeks tomorrow I think I’d better get on with it!!!xx

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Glad you found it useful Amanda. Definitely get your bag ready soon. Not long to go! x

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I was going to suggest the Avene water spray but I see you’ve already included it! I use it on a daily basis but in labour it was the most incredible thing.

Also – as others have said above – bendy straws for drinking! Great during labour but also for when you’re stuck in a hospital bed afterwards on your own with a non-stop feeding baby.

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This is fabulous, thanks everyone! I’m also 26 weeks pregnant so just starting to think about this stuff, and am compiling a list of all the suggestions.

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Jelly babies. The midwife kept on trying to encourage me to eat little bits but understandably I wasn’t hungry – jelly babies are great for keeping your energy up and your OH can be responsible for the dispensing them to you!
A towel to sit on for the car. If your waters have broken / might break.

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Jelly babies are the best suggestion yet! x

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Perfect timing, and great comments – thanks everyone! I am almost 37 weeks and have had the baby’s things packed for a while, but I am still putting together my own things (I have them, just not in the same place yet…). You have all just prompted me to do a “miniatures” Boots shop in my lunch break for the last few toiletries I needed, and jelly babies are on the list too! x

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Lucozade! Got me through labour without needing a drip which they threatened me with because let’s face no fancies eating really and by God you need the energy!!

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, there’s a great app called feed baby which you start stop and say what side you’ve fed from & record nappies – really useful for the first week when you get asked a lot about feeds and nappies and there’s no way you could remember it! Or a good old fashioned notebook and pencil.

My top tip passed onto me was to stash as many hospital maternity pads as possible – way better than any you can buy. Also a couple of bed pads if you can for the sofa & bed at home ? Oh so glamourous!

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Great post! I totally agree with the jelly babies, they helped me loads and also fizzy cola bottles. Great tip to take the hospital pads, they were amazing! I also packed and used daily throughout the first month with the babe: http://www.nealsyardremedies.com/skincare/organic-facial-skincare/facial-toners/0352.html such a gorgeous smell and helped me to relax.

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This post has come at the perfect time being just over 38 weeks pregnant! I have my bag(s) just about packed but there are a couple of extra bits I will be adding now – Thanks! One tip I have also been given is to take something for the midwife, so we’re taking a packet of cookies along for them.

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That’s such a sweet idea. They do an amazing job so treats will be much appreciated I’m sure x

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At 32 weeks this is perfect timing! Planning on getting most stuff this weekend and having it packed. I’m
Upping my number of babygros seeing this list and defiantly adding a straw and sweets.
As mine will be a Christmas baby I’m taken a tin of quality street for the midwives- they love getting sweets and I’m not ashamed to hope it means they are a bit nicer with a sugar rush!

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This is perfect timing, what a sensible and useful list! However, in response my husband’s thoughts were ‘snacks are a great idea, I’ll make some flapjacks’. I think he’s confused between bake off and giving birth…

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Ha ha ha! That is one amazing husband! Definitely take him up on that offer and if not tell him to send them our way! x

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I love this post! I wish I’d found such a handy list when preparing for my little one. My husband and I are known for being very disorganised so I think we did quite well considering. Although we forgot to take a blanket so on all our baby girls first pictures she’s wrapped in a towel with ‘property of hospital’ printed across it ?

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I’m 13 weeks pregnant so not thinking about all this quite yet, but am going to bookmark this fab list and come back to it later.

Some of your comments have really made me laugh, Mrs D your husbands choice of clothes was fab, will definitely leave a pile of clothes for my husband, he has trouble locating his own things let alone mine (and a baby’s!)

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Love the list and all the comments! I was recommended Arnica tablets by the midwife just after I had Emily and they were brilliant. They help heal bruising and swelling from the inside. xx

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So, it turns out this post was exactly perfectly timed, as I had my baby 3 weeks early, on 28 October!!!! Thanks everyone for kick-starting me into packing my hospital bag, as I needed it the next day! x

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Congratulations!!! Fabulous news and so pleased your bag was ready for baby’s arrival xx

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Thanks so much for this list! I’m only 21 weeks but was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by everything ahead…. I now have this bookmarked and feel so much more informed!!Xx

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Yay, glad to be of help Anna! x

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I just rediscovered this list as am prepping the bag for baby 2- and laughing at myself. Definitely no labelled ziplock bags this time with a toddler to wrangle and no month of maternity leave to fill!

Is it worth updating this post and revamping it? Or could you ask a midwife what they packed? That would be a great post.

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I had the most epic fail and forgot my notes! It all happened so quickly I couldn’t even talk when we were leaving the house, and my husband forgot them in the rush too. Baby was born 10 minutes after arriving at the hospital, so notes aren’t completely essential!! 🙈 But we got them bought in straight away. If the baby is coming, the baby is coming!! Xx

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Lottie Manns
2nd June 2017 3:50 pm

This was always a fear of mine Karen as I had to take them to so many consultant appointments so they were never in my hospital bag! xx

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Thank you for reposting this brilliant article and the comments. I’m currently 25 weeks with baby no 2. Has my first 13 years ago(!) and in my naivety, I thought I would pack in early labour so I had something to do! Yes really!! I ended up with a very fast delivery and had a random collection of things hastily shoved into a bag. No nappies for baby which the midwives were horrified at. I will definitely be coming back to this list in a few weeks 🙂

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Lottie Manns
2nd June 2017 7:57 pm

Congrats on baby no 2! How exciting. I honestly don’t think you can ever remember everything so don’t worry too much. I always figure you can send someone out for things like nappies if you need! x

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I found a tens machine brilliant for the early stages – especially the car journey in and waiting to use a birthing pool. Spare batteries useful too.

A good friend of mine also suggested don’t let your other half bring smelly snacks as the last thing you want is a whiff of cheese and onion crisps as you’re trying to focus!!

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Lottie Manns
2nd June 2017 7:58 pm

I forgot about the tens machine. I used one with my first labour and it was great in the early stages as you say. Also, loving the top tip on the cheese and onion crisps! xx

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