Preparing for birth: what you need in your hospital bag and what to expect at the big moment

Is your due date just around the corner? Start preparing for labour with our hospital bag checklist for birth and handy tips.

Updated

preparing for labour
Pack your hospital bag a few weeks in advance so it’s ready to go! Make sure you wash baby’s clothes with a mild detergent like Persil Non-Bio so that they’re nice and fresh.

As your due date draws near, preparing for birth will no doubt become all you can think about – especially if you’re having your first baby. The best way to calm your nerves is by being prepared, and that’s where this guide comes in.

Hospital bag: checklist for birth

It’s best to make a list of everything you want in your hospital bag when preparing for labour and have the bag packed and ready to go a few of weeks in advance. Keep it somewhere that’s easy to grab in a hurry and let your loved ones know where it is in case they need to collect it for you.

Here are some ideas for what you need in your hospital bag for birth for yourself:

  • Birth plan and hospital notes
  • Clothes – not just nightwear but a comfy, loose-fitting outfit to wear home
  • Maternity bra and nursing bras
  • Breast pads and maternity pads
  • Hairbrush and hair bands/clips (a must when preparing for labour)
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Books, magazines, music or anything else to help you pass the time
  • Toiletries (towel, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, shower gel, moisturiser, flannel, and anything else you might need or want to keep you comfortable).

Of course, you’ll also need to pack some items for baby too:

  • Bodysuits, sleepsuits, and vests
  • An outfit for going home that’s weather appropriate
  • A hat, socks, and scratch mittens
  • Nappies
  • A blanket and muslin squares
  • A car seat for your journey home – you won’t be able to leave hospital without it so it’s advisable to test fitting it in your car a few times before your due date.

For all the clothing items, we recommend washing them with a baby-safe detergent and fabric conditioner – such as Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure – before use.

What will happen during labour?

As well as preparing a hospital bag checklist for birth you also need to think about what to expect when the big moment finally comes. Although the process of giving birth is different for every woman, every labour is typically split into three stages:

  • Stage 1: normally the longest stage, this is where everything is just starting. Your contractions might be a little irregular and your cervix will be starting to dilate. You won’t reach “established labour” until your 3cm dilated and have regular contractions every 3-5 minutes.
  • Stage 2: this is where all the action happens! It begins when you’re fully dilated and involves you finding a comfortable birthing position to bring new life into the world. This stage lasts right up until your baby is born.
  • Stage 3: occurring immediately after the birth, this is the stage where your body begins to reset itself. The placenta comes out at this stage and can take up to an hour to complete. You may be given drugs to assist this stage if needed.

Although every labour is different, it may help you to know that first labours typically last 6-20 hours.

What happens after birth?

After your baby is born, you’ll hold them for skin-to-skin contact and the umbilical cord will be cut. You’ll be allowed to clean yourself up, have a short walk, and have your first taste of food or drink as a parent as soon after birth as possible to aid your recovery.

Now you know what you need in your hospital bag for birth and what happens after birth, it’s time to do everything you can to relax before your due date. Every pregnancy is different and while you can take steps to be prepared for the big day the most important thing is to try and remain calm and stress-free.

Originally published