Hospital Bag Checklist: The What, The Why, The What Not

Sonia WalkerJune 11th, 2014  |   () comments

So it’s almost “time” and you’re wondering what to bung in your hospital bag. I remember with my first pregnancy, it was at about this point that I started to feel a little overwhelmed by it all.  Actually, completely overwhelmed. Another bloody list? More shopping for stuff I have no clue about?

Some will blame the hormones, but in my case I knew it was my anal-retentive tendencies. Ok, so it was more than that. Not only am I a “details” person, I also like to be in control of the situation. Now before you judge, let me clarify in saying, not in the control-freak kind of way, more in a thoroughly prepared kind of way. Therefore, with this in mind, not only do you get the benefit of shall we say, my "conscientiousness", you also get the benefit of my mistakes [ahem] experience. With that said, below is my version of how to pack your hospital bag. You can also download and print this handy checklist below.


  • Your own pillow. Whether you’re smack bang in the middle of labour or recovering from the major sporting event you just completed, you don’t want no brick under your head.
  • Comfy PJ’s with easy booby access. A button down shirt works a treat for breastfeeding but you can also buy some very prettily designed nursing cami’s. Personally I wasn’t feeling quite “cami ready” with my mummy tummy but it all comes down to personal preference. A dressing gown or hoodie won’t go astray either.
  • Your UGGs or fluffy slippers for shuffling the halls and some toasty socks. Don’t know about you, but if my feet are cold, so is the rest of me.
  • Traditionally labour can get kinda active, so you’re going to want to keep your sweaty locks off your face. A hairband or hair-tie is a must, unless of course you’re rocking a super short do.
  • Lip balm. Exercise = water loss = dry lips.
  • A Doula. They are awesome. The end.
  • Your happy snapping device of choice. And of course your smartphone or tablet so you can Tweet and Facebook the entire event live. Or at least the results if you don’t want to get too carried away.
  • A big pack of surfboard style pads. Sorry sister, 9 months of being period free = payback. You will be bleeding for at least 3-4 weeks, possibly longer. And in the first few days it will be heavy. Awesome huh?!
  • A couple of  breastfeeding essentials are a nursing bra and nursing pads. Although it’s not a bad idea to wait before you buy too many nursing bras. Your mature milk won’t come in for 48-72 hours at which point, if you can believe it, your boob size will change again. The other option is a sleep nursing bra. Lets face it, after your newborn, sleep is your only other priority, so you may as well be kitted out in the relevant attire. Nursing pads are a must particularly in the first few weeks. You can opt for disposable or reusable/washable. There are obvious arguments for both, which I won’t bore you with, but I will say having used both in the very early days I think disposable are the go. They are far better at absorbing the leakages, which are kinda substantial in the beginning. Once supply and demand has been established and you’re not leaking all over the place, the washable ones really are much better for the environment!
  • Probably no danger of you forgetting to pack some clothes for baby, but a very real chance of packing way too many.  You may also want to reconsider the “special going home outfit” that is a cute but complicated combination of separates and layers. For want of a better description, newborns are still pretty scrunched up and are extremely difficult to dress until their arms and legs slowly begin to appreciate their newfound freedom. One-piece it all the way.
  • Last but not least is your “special going home outfit”. Seeing as I’ve discouraged you from getting too carried away with baby’s ensemble, why not treat yourself to kit from Lululemon or the likes. Regardless of the type of birth you’ve had, you’re going to feel tender and sore south of your belly button, so why not combine a bit of comfort and style?


  • A cute designer birthing gown. Hospital digs are dreadful. They truly are ugly and uncomfortable. If you’re having a planned caesarean however, you may want to check with your hospital on surgery protocol before getting too excited. Chances are BYO is not allowed.
  • A hot/cold pack – if you already have one. Not worth buying specifically as there’s a good chance you’ll forget you packed it.
  • “Energy” food – defined however you like – but to be honest, most of us feel like absolutely nothing to eat once things really get going. A great energy alternative is something like Gastrolyte (a concentrated combo of carbs and electrolytes), frozen into cubes. Or even cordial, done the same way. You’re going to be thirsty but the thought of downing large volumes of liquid may seem more painful than the contractions themselves. In this instance, ice blocks are your friends.
  • A splash of make up – if you wear it. After all is said and done and you’re ready for the family photo shoot, you may want to camouflage the exhaustion lines.
  • Consider uploading some tunes to your iPod, but don’t spend hours building the perfect play list. Chances are you’ll either forget about it, decide there’s no bloody way you want music on, or find yourself asking mid contraction, “what the hell was a thinking with this choice of song?!”.
  • A celebratory beverage. With baby #1, I spent more time working on the details of my post-birth feast than I care to admit, only to find I didn’t feel like one thing on that carefully constructed list, for days. In fact months. And despite many things being acceptable in moderation, everything you consume is passed through the breastmilk - so keep that in mind.
  • An unfortunate but not uncommon result of your regular variety childbirth can be haemorrhoids. If you want to know how to potentially avoid haemorrhoids or at least minimize the severity, take a peek here. 


  • Like a pair of skinny jeans, you probably weren’t planning on packing the family jewels but I’d suggest leaving your timepiece behind while you’re at it. Sometimes it’s in our best interest to remain clueless about such things as the current time and how long you’ve been in labour. Same thing goes for when baby arrives. Rest assured, your newbie will be sure to let you know when it’s time to feed them, change them or cuddle them. Hell, with that said you might as well ditch your watch for the next few months.
  • Thinking about throwing in a few trashy mags? Or knocking off a good crime thriller during your stay? Who are you kidding? If you’re not busy labouring or mothering you’ll want to be sleeping. Besides, Facebook and Twitter will keep you abreast of everything that matters and if you find you’re really stuck for entertainment, there’s always our friend Pinterest. 

Good luck. And don’t forget your toothbrush!

You can also download and print our handy hospital bag checklist [here].

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