The labour bag check list every mum-to-be needs.

Packing your bag for the hospital can be a daunting task. What do you need? What don’t you need? 

When my first child was about to make his way into the world I spent a great deal of time packing (and unpacking, and repacking) my hospital bag. That kid was over two weeks late and I started running out of things to do.

After the birth I remember looking through my bag and thinking “What the hell would I want that for?” As is my usual style of packing, I included anything and everything that I could think of. Except for the items that I really wished I had.

To save you the same fate, I have compiled a list of the essentials for every mum-to-be. First off, pack two bags. One for the labour and one for after your baby is safely in your arms.

The labour bag.

1. Hospital admissions card.

Perhaps one of the most important things you will need is your hospital admissions documents. That way as you rock up to the maternity ward the staff will know who you are, who your doctor is and all babies medical details.

The process is a lot smoother if you have the right documents on you. Image: Istock

2. Sarong or dark coloured nighty.

In all honestly, you'll probably just end up butt naked (and not have a single care about that) when things really get under way. But for the beginning stages of labour, a soft dark coloured nighty or sarong is going to be the most beneficial to you.

3. Ear plugs and eye mask.

Cruelly, labour for some women can last days. You need to give yourself the best possibly opportunity to sleep when your body will let you (or when the epidural kicks in) so packing an eye mask will help block out the fluorescent hospital lights. Earplugs will block out the sounds on the ward (especially other labouring women).

4. Light snacks.

Of course they will offer you food at the hospital but you'll want something on hand in case you get hungry during labour. A friend of mine was also smart enough to pack a sandwich for her husband.

5. Swimming costume.

Packing some bathers for both yourself and your partner is a good idea as a lot of birthing suites have large baths big enough for two. It's a nice way to break up the intensity of labour and provide a tiny bit of relaxation.

6. iPod.

Consider a playlist featuring different styles because you never know what you'll be in the mood for. While you might think you'll be all for the pan flute for hours on end, the reality may be more "Eye of the Tiger" when the going gets tough.

7. Camera.

I know this one seems obvious but make sure you pack a camera for your partner to document the amazing arrival of your little one. Be sure to pack a charger (and use it) and clear your memory so you have space for the most important pictures of your life.

8. Phone.

Make sure you pack your phone and charger, you could be there a while.

9. Hair bands.

There is nothing more annoying than your hair constantly falling in your face when you're trying to push a baby out your hoo haa. Pack some hair ties and a head band to keep your hair out of your eyes.

The last thing you want to worry about it your hair. Image: Istock

10. Lip balm.

During delivery, your lips can get really dry and uncomfortable. The air conditioning in the hospital combined with all that gas and air can leave you with painful cracks that you just don't need to be dealing with.

11. Heat pack.

My OB suggested including a heat pack in my labour bag and I was very glad I did. Even though I ended up with an emergency C-section, the hospital beds are so damn uncomfortable that I was getting aches and pains all over the place. Hubby was able to warm up the wheat pack for me which really made a difference.It's also great to have a heat pack on hand for after the birth. Post birth contraction pain is so very real.  

The after-birth bag.

1. Black mens undies.

Lots of them. Like, heaps. The best part about using mens undies is that they have heaps more room in the crotch (for obvious reasons) which is great if you have a natural delivery and would like some ice packs "down there" post delivery. Not only that but they are high enough to sit comfortably if you do end up having a c-section. The first time round I packed normal undies and they rubbed and irritated my scar so badly that I vowed to only pack mens undies in the future.

2. Ice packs.

Ice packs are great to shove down the front of your (men's) undies for numbing and soothing your bits post birth. Just freeze them and then wrap in a wash cloth so they aren't too cold against your skin.

Ice packs are also fantastic for when your milk comes in as they soothe hot, red boobs and calm an oversupply of milk. Both times I was in hospital I had nurses make me 'ice bras' and the process would have been a lot easier if I had my own icepacks on hand. Just make sure you label them so they don't go walk-a-about.

3. Comfortable clothes.

Make sure you pack loose, dark coloured lounge pants and feeding singlets for the day. Choose ones which have a soft, stretchy waistband as your stomach will be tender. Also include a zip up cardigan or hoodie in case the hospital is super keen with their air conditioning system.

For night time, loose leg pyjamas or nighties are fine, just make sure the top part is button down for easy breast feeding access (if you choose to breastfeed).

Make sure you include a pair of thongs for walking around (and wearing in the shower) and some slippers for trekking to and from the nursery at all hours.

4. Toilet paper and wipes.

If you have a natural birth, chances are you won't want that nasty, scratchy hospital toilet paper anywhere near your lady garden. Pack your own roll of loo paper and some wipes to soothe what will no doubt be, a very sensitive area.

5. Ural sachets.

I'm told that these are heaven sent by mothers who have experienced a natural birth.

6. Hairdryer.

Ha, not for your hair, silly. For your lady bits of course. If you have had a natural delivery and end with stitches in that delicate area using a hair dryer after the shower to delicately and gentle dry the area without the need to rub (ouch) is a great idea.

7. Sanitary pads.

Again, lots. Pack more than you think you will need. Post partum bleeding is often concerning for new mothers but it's totally normal and you'll probably be surprised at how much there is.

The hospital will provide you with some surfboard looking things but most women prefer the maternity pads you can purchase at the supermarket or chemist.

8. Breast pads.

Here's another little surprise I wasn't quite prepared for. A few days after your baby is born, your boobs will explode. Well not literally, but they will leak everywhere. Until your milk supply adjusts to what the baby takes, you'll be dripping all over the place. Pack a heap of breast pads in your bag.

Until your milk has settled you'll need a stack of breast pads. Image: istock

9. Nipple cream.

Ohhh the joys continue. Newborn babies have a tendency to rip apart your nipples causing them to crack and bleed. I'll be honest, it hurts like all hell. Packing a nipple cream will soothe your nipples between feeds and encourage them to heal. Plus, it's totally safe for use with baby.

10. Toiletries.

Include a small toiletries bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash and moisturiser. (It's a good idea to stick some cleansing wipes in there in case you're bed bound for a few days.)

If you normally wear makeup, include some light tinted moisturiser, cream blush, concealer and mascara for when you're feeling up to visitors. Of course, that's totally up to you.  No one expects you to be looking incredible after giving birth but I found that I felt much better having a little makeup on when people came to visit, despite the fact that I was totally off my face on painkillers and hadn't slept all night.

11. Shower gel.

One of the things I appreciated the most while I was in hospital after the birth of my children was having a nice shower gel on hand. I know that sounds funny but after laying on plastic sheets all day, having strangers prod and poke you, I really appreciated the tiny bit of luxury a nice smelling body wash provided.

12.Dry shampoo.

AKA a new mothers best friend.

After the birth (which ever way it happens) you're going to be sore and you're going to be tired. Some days, you're not going to have the energy to wash your hair properly, but you still want it to look nice.

Keep a can of dry shampoo next to your bed to re-fresh your bed hair in between visitors.

13. Pillow.

This is totally up to the individual but I found that having my own pillow with me in the hospital made my stay much more comfortable. With both my sons, I stayed for over a week so I was happy to have my own pillow in bed with me rather than the small, floppy hospital ones that made my neck hurt during the night. The aim is to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  It's also a good idea to choose a pillow slip that isn't white to avoid it accidentally being sent to the hospital laundry.

14. Going home outfit.

While it's perfectly appropriate for you to go home in your lounge pants and singlet (in fact I'd recommend it) it's your god given right as a new mother to find the cutest, most adorable outfit possible for that child to make its journey home in. There's usually no need to pack anything other than this as the hospital will generally provide all nappies, wipes and outfits for their stay in hospital.

Do you have anything to add to the list?

Want more? Try:

“It’s been three years since I gave birth to my last child and I’m still dealing with the after-effects.”

"The strangest questions mums-to-be of boys have asked me.”

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