So, you have your birth plan drawn up, you’ve done your pre-natal education classes, and your due date is fast approaching. But are you ready to go? Being adequately prepared for the big day can go a long way to reducing stress and making the whole process much smoother and more enjoyable. The last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re starting labour is trying to find a hair tie, or charging the batteries for the SLR!

Packing for hospital checklistI usually advise my clients to have their hospital or birthing bag packed by 36 weeks, ready and waiting in a convenient spot to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. Below is a handy checklist I provide my clients as a starting point, which can then be customised based on your specific situation - the type of birth you are striving for, the birthing location (home / hospital / birthing centre), and what facilities and support services are available to you.

Hospital Packing checklist

  • Toiletries – mini travel-sized bottles are great. 
  • Food and drinks for you and your partner – snack food which will last in the bag for several weeks (muesli bars and dried fruit are great), a bottle of water, and a non-caffeinated, non-carbonated energy drink to hydrate and energise you. 
  • Surgical pads / maternity pads – some women bleed a lot after delivery for a few days, especially during your first shower.
  • Natural laxative food – start this a few days before your due date, and continue for a while afterwards as required.
  • Breast pads – disposables are easiest for the birth bag. You can move on to the reusable ones at home.
  • Maternity bras – a comfy tank top style works best in a hospital bed.
  • Luxurious ultra-soft tissues and toilet paper – you will appreciate this when you are in the hospital or birthing centre!
  • Lip balm
  • Hair ties / clips
  • Phone charger
  • Camera and charger – video and photo, unless you are using your phone camera for it all.
  • PJs – whatever is going to be the most comfortable and practical. A button-up top can work well for breast feeding. Pack at least 3 sets, and you may wish to include a dressing gown and slippers too.
  • Socks – your feet can get quite cold during labour. Socks with non-slip soles are great for walking around on slippery hospital floors.
  • Clothes for you - a comfortable outfit for when you leave the hospital, including comfy slip-on shoes.
  • Clothes for the baby – a few onesies or body suits, and perhaps some singlets and a beanie depending on the season.
  • A wrap – or two, and perhaps a blanket for leaving the hospital if you’re having a winter baby.
  • Nappies – just a small pack of newborn size.
  • Medicines – any regular medications you are on or may need during your hospital stay. Check with your doctor or midwife as to whether you need to bring compression stockings.
  • Labour / birthing aids – anything you intend to use during labour or delivery, like a fit ball, TENS machine, heat pack, music player and speakers or headphones, etc.

Preparing the way

In addition to having your bags packed, there are a few other things to be checked off the list to make sure you are adequately prepared for delivery day. You would ideally like to avoid dealing with any unexpected surprises, so plan ahead and plan well! Here are some more aspects to consider to help you prepare for the big day:
  • Plan how you are getting to the birthing location. Who is driving, what route are you taking, and will this differ depending on the time of day, or day of the week?
  • Check what parking options are available at the birthing location.
  • Get your baby seat installed by a professional / licenced installer a few weeks before your due date.
  • Keep a list of important contacts with you at all time – doctor, midwife/doula, partner, mum, designated driver, etc, as well as any relevant medical information (health conditions, medications, private health cover, and so on).
  • Keep spare / old towels in the car in case your waters break while you’re out.

Remember – a little time spent planning before, saves a lot of time problem-solving after. So plan ahead, be prepared, and enjoy!

** This post is adapted from some of the many handy checklists available in my book "Preparing your home and life for baby", which is the ultimate handbook for first time expecting parents. Learn more here, or go straight to purchase here.